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A member of Ravenclaw team draws the Golden Snitch from the sorting hat. Photo/Katherine Rose/KCAW

The Harry Potter books are having a second wave. Author J.K. Rowling released a new play, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” on Sunday (07-31-16), which inspired literary events all over the country. In Sitka, the local library held a tournament in honor of the book’s #1 sport – Quidditch. KCAW’s Katherine Rose watched the action from the sidelines. 

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 In the books, Quidditch is played by witches and wizards  – on flying broomsticks. So, to adapt the game to our gravity-bound world, the Sitka Public Library had to get creative.

 Sounds of ping pong ball hitting the table 

 “What spell is used to conjure the dark mark?

This is tabletop Quidditch. It looks a bit like ping pong, except students have to bounce balls off the table, through one of three hoops, and into a cup on the other side. If they make it, they get a point. If they sink it in the cup, but miss the hoop, they have to answer a trivia question

 “Who teaches defense against the Dark Arts in Harry Potter’s 3rd year at Hogwarts.”

 “Professor R. J. Lupin”

The students are on their game. But the biggest fan here may be the librarian, herself. Maite Lorente has always been a big fan of everyone’s favorite bespectacled, boy-wizard. So much so, she named her dog after him.

“When the seventh book finally was published- that same summer, my dog was born, and the poor thing has to carry the name of Harry Potter forever, because it’s a passion of mine,” said Lorente.

So when she heard that the theme for summer reading programs across the country was “On your mark, get set, read!” encouraging kids to go outdoors and be active, she just knew she had to incorporate the wizarding world’s favorite pastime.

“At the beginning we wanted to do an outdoors one, but that would have required a lot of time, so we just decided to go for an indoors Quidditch tournament,” she said. 

She researched her options online, and transformed a ping pong table into a Quidditch arena. Players have to hold onto a real broom with one hand while they toss the ping pong quaffles with the other. But there was a bit of confusion about the brooms at the beginning.

“There was a moment where I realized that I had to explain to them that we were not going to be flying with brooms,” said Lorente. “And I think some of them got a little bit disappointed. But I just explained to them that librarians can do almost everything but to this date none of us have gotten the secret of how to fly with a broom yet.”

But the kids didn’t end up being too disappointed. They got pretty into it. Elliot played for Gryffindor, and he says there were a few moments when he wondered whether they’d make it to the end of the tournament.

“It was pretty fun and pretty tense,” he said. “Sometimes I felt like whenever one team got the snitch, I got really scared wishing they won’t get it into the cup. I was glad Slytherin didn’t win that round. They were doing pretty good, that’s why I didn’t want them to win that, so we had an easier time.”

It’s easy to lionize Gryffindor, but each house has its merits. Ravenclaw is smart, Hufflepuff is kind and Slytherin is ambitious.

“I love when they come and they say ‘I want to be in the Hufflepuff house,” said Lorente. You assumed that Gryffindor was going to be filled, and that was the case, right away. When I have a Ravenclaw or a Hufflepuff or a Slytherin come in, you know that makes my day.”

Whatever house you decide on, one thing is clear. The wand may choose the wizard, but in the Potterverse you can always choose to be yourself.

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Photo/Katherine Rose/KCAW