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Tri-Wizard Tournament benefits water ski club

Harry Potter's wizarding world comes to downtown Park Rapids, complete with quidditch and chocolate frogs.

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A group of children plays a broomstick-free version of quidditch, Harry Potter's magical ballgame, Saturday at Depot Park. The game involves three goal hoops at each end of the field, three different kinds of ball and, in this instance, towers sporting the colors of all four Hogwarts houses. (Robin Fish/Enterprise)

A brick wall appeared and disappeared Saturday in Pioneer Park, with an opening over the memorial brick pathway. The sign over the doorway said "Diagon Alley."

People in wizards’ and witches’ robes were there, signing youngsters up for a Harry Potter-themed scavenger hunt in downtown Park Rapids. Music from the soundtrack of the Harry Potter movies could be heard a block away.

There was a table at the back of Ben Franklin, where children did “Care of Magical Creatures” crafts. Jake’s Barbershop became a potions laboratory, and one corner of Aunt Belle’s Confectionary held specially made chocolate frogs.

Other businesses had items on display for participants to check off their scavenger hunt lists. A couple of Hogwarts professors stood by at Pioneer Park, administering Harry Potter trivia quizzes.

Artist Nate Luetgers sketched kids’ faces into “Have You Seen This Wizard?” wanted posters. Jake DeBlieck, dressed as Professor Dumbledore, offered opportunities to try a wizard duel game he created, using wooden wands to fling Nerf gun bullets.

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Wizarding swag was also on display, including the Goblet of Fire, the TriWizard Cup, floating candles and a dragon skeleton in flight.

Clear, sunny skies and cool breezes favored the town for a busy MEA weekend. Earlier in the day, an elaborate quidditch pitch was set up, though only a few children gathered in Depot Park to play a broomstick-free version of Harry Potter’s favorite sport. Later, a tabletop quidditch set was on view at Pioneer Park.

DeBlieck said this was the second year for the event. He put a lot of work into it, creating the equipment for both quidditch games, including two-story scaffolding towers hung in the colors of the four houses of Hogwarts.

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Jake DeBlieck, dressed as Dumbledore (only without the beard), demonstrates a wizard duel game he created by turning wooden spindles into wands and fitting them with Nerf gun bullets. The object is to flick your wand so the "spell" hits your opponent.

“My wife works at R&R Rental, and I was helping one day unloading, and I’m like, ‘I wonder how hard this would be,’” he said. “And it’s incredibly hard. It’s not a lot of fun to set up all that scaffolding. We had to take two separate trips because it was so much scaffolding.”

Another big task was coming up with items to hide in the participating stores. “We had three new items,” he said. “They were made personally. One was Tom Riddle’s diary, and the chocolate frogs – I talked to Ray (Carlson) up at Aunt Belle’s, and had him help, and we ordered molds online for making all the chocolate frogs up there.”

He acknowledged Kim Knaack and Chris Zinke for helping him recruit volunteers and organize the event. “This is actually a fundraiser for our Park Rapids Water Ski Team,” he said, noting that members of the team also helped him set things up, but “they aren’t Harry Potter fans like my family is.”

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DeBlieck’s enthusiasm for Harry Potter was evident by the way he went all-out with the decorations, costumes and music.

He said the idea behind the quizzes, crafts and potions lab was to give kids things to do in a short amount of time during the two-hour scavenger hunt.

Robin Fish is a staff reporter at the Park Rapids Enterprise. Contact him at rfish@parkrapidsenterprise.com or 218-252-3053.
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