A magical evening

‘Harry Potter’ fans get taste of wizard’s life

Tina and Alex Rittenhouse of Florence, Wis., pose in the Transfiguration Photo Booth during “Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.” (Theresa Proudfit/Daily News photo)

Poor weather Thursday could not prevent magic from descending like an owl on the Pine Grove Country Club in Iron Mountain for “Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.”

“Potterheads” from across the Upper Peninsula gathered for the fundraising event Thursday evening hosted by Dickinson Area Community Foundation to support its mini-grant program.

Harry Potter fans drove to town from Marquette, Negaunee, Iron River, Lanse and Manistique.

Just a handful of fans unable to travel because of weather cancelled Thursday, and those tickets quickly were resold to others waiting for the opportunity to attend, organizers said.

“The response has been tremendous,” said Tamara Juul, the foundation’s executive director.

From left, Professor Sybill Trelawney, aka Barbara Kramer, meets with Levi, Jonah and Dawn Caruso during the “Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” event Thursday evening at the Pine Grove County Club. (Theresa Proudfit/Daily News photo)

She credited foundation accountant Melissa Wentarmini and administrative assistant Sarah Hurtubise as the “fans and … creative minds” behind the event.

Juul said the team barely had a chance to advertise before the $50-a-person affair ran out of tickets.

“We put an event up on Facebook and it sold out in three weeks,” she said. “It will be good exposure, because people are coming from all over the U.P. to attend.”

The evening included an Old World, castle-style dinner of Cornish hens with mashed potatoes.

“It’s very elegant. The dining hall is all decorated in the four houses of the Harry Potter books,” Juul said.

Ollivander’s wands, Honeydukes sweet shop candies and chocolate frogs were sold at the event, along with a 50/50 drawing and a Bertie Bott’s Beanboozled challenge game for guests.

A Marauder’s Map scavenger hunt also had participants visiting the Leaky Cauldron pub, The Three Broomsticks Inn, the Transfiguration photo booth and other displays to qualify for the grand prize — an overnight package that included a night’s stay at the Hampton Inn in Marquette, dinner at the Casa Calabria and drinks at Blackrocks Brewery in Marquette.

Ten actors from the Dickinson County Community Theatre and Friends of Braumart posed as prominent “Harry Potter” characters throughout the evening.

Jessica Weeks of Kingsford was among those DCCT volunteer actors, dressing as Bellatrix Lestrange, a pureblood witch and villain who had a prominent role in the books.

“I am the meanest witch in the story,” Weeks admitted, though she noted Lestrange is partially insane from being in prison.

Since Weeks doesn’t identify with the character, to prepare for the part she said, “I have been working on my mean.”

Potterheads Levi and Jonah Caruso, who dressed as Harry Potter and Ron Weasley for the event, were a little young to read the books but said they watched the movies.

The event drew 204 people despite the weather and was expected to generate about $5,000 for the charity.

“We are excited to bring something like this to Iron Mountain. There aren’t a lot of events like this,” Hurtubise said.

Wentarmini, said they hope to make the event an annual fundraiser, possibly extending it to a couple days considering what is needed to prepare for the occasion.

“It was three days of work for a few hours tonight,” she said.

The Dickinson Area Community Foundation is a permanent, charitable endowment of 101 charitable funds, each named and designated by donors to benefit the area. The mini-grant program gives $250 donations to broad programs of education, health and human services, arts and culture, environment, community and economic development through out the year to enhance the quality of life for all residents of Dickinson County, adjacent Michigan and Wisconsin communities and the Forest Park/Crystal Falls communities. In the past two years, the foundation has given $20,000 in mini-grants.

Theresa Proudfit can be reached at 906-774-2772, ext. 45, or tproudfit@ironmountaindailynews.com.