The Harry Potter-athon: Sorcery in Downtown Hamilton

Tory Glerum

Whether your Harry Potter books sit gathering dust on your bookshelf at home, or you’ve just re-read one of the six in place of your chemistry textbook, you will soon have the chance to experience the magic of Hogwarts right in the Hamilton community. Starting at 4:00 p.m. on Friday, October 27, many different clubs, merchants, community members and other Harry Potter fans in general will gather to read aloud and listen to all 17 chapters of the first book in J.K Rowling’s award-winning series: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The event, advertised as the Harry Potter-athon, will take place in the Hamilton Public Library Community Room free of cost and will run until the last chapter has been read.

The time slots designated for the reading of each chapter have been filled by many volunteers from both the Colgate and Hamilton communities. The student club Sidekicks will read one chapter as a group, in addition to the German and Spanish Clubs, who will read parts of the chapters in their two respective languages. Some special readers will include Hamilton Central School Superintendent Diana Bowers, Hamilton Central School Board Member Sandra Carter, several community pastors and Colgate’s President Rebecca Chopp and Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson.

Sophomore Shannon Young, who organized the marathon readings of both The Odyssey and The Illiad last year, is one of the individuals who worked to make the Harry Potter-athon happen. She said that while the Odyesseothon and the Illiathon were very academic, the reading of Harry Potter will be more fun. “We want to get kids excited about reading with a book we know they like,” she said.

Young said that the idea of a Harry Potter-athon sparked her interest for a combination of reasons. “When I was growing up, my mom read out loud to me and with the Odysseothon and the Illiathon, people responded well to hearing the famous works read out-loud.” Young also feels that the event will bring together the Colgate and Hamilton communities. “There will be costume contests, snacks and door prizes,” she said.

Georgia Frank, Associate Professor of Religion, is another of the event’s main organizers. In fact, it was the idea of her and her young daughter to hold the event in the first place after having read together in the Odysseothon last year. Frank said that a group met in September to organize the event and brainstorm different individuals and groups that could be involved.

Professor Frank said that many organizations and merchants have come out to support the event. “The Barge will be donating tokens, and the Hamilton Movie Theater, Hamilton Public Library and Colgate Bookstore are all supporters,” Frank said. “Konosioni will be judging the costume contest and the middle school girl scouts will be doing face painting.” Other supporters include the Center for Outreach and Volenteerism Education (COVE), Hamilton Chiropractic, the Hamilton School board, the Upstate Institute and Radio Free Hamilton, which will cover the event.

Frank said that children in the community were very involved in organizing the marathon and will be a big part of it. Young readers were able to sign up for time slots through promotions in the elementary schools. “Some kids will read, but it will also be fun for those who just want to listen,” she said, “and little kids who can’t sit for a straight half-hour will have activities to do.”

Barb Coger, the Director of the Hamilton Public Library, said that the library is happy to host and be a part of such an event. “We’re a central location, so college and community members will feel comfortable coming here,” she said. “And we would like to be involved with anything dealing with books and reading.”

Coger feels that the Harry Potter-athon has been very well-organized. “Even if you are not a reader, there will be plenty of entertainment,” she said.

Those who plan on attending the event are encouraged to bring with them pre-school age books that they are willing to donate to children who do not have them. “We want to promote literacy in Madison County,” Frank said.

Young said that there has been a fantastic response to the Harry Potter-athon so far, and she really encourages people to come and see what it’s all about. “It will be a common, fun event bringing everybody together,” she said.

So, if you love Harry Potter, don’t think that being in college gives you any excuse not to go down to the Hamilton Public Library on Friday, October 27 for the Harry Potter-athon. “We are expecting Harry Potter fans of all ages; not just children,” Coger said. “It is for anyone who enjoys the series.”