Inside the Increasingly Rough-and-Tumble Philadelphia Quidditch Scene

Photo | Isabella Gong Photography

Photo | Isabella Gong Photography

They hurtle toward each other, six per team, cleats sloshing with mean vigor on the ground still wet from the morning sprinklers. The quickest, most audacious head toward midfield where an under-inflated volleyball and three dodgeballs await. They jostle violently for the balls but only with one hand. The other must always – always – hold on to the broom.

Unfortunately, magic broomsticks do not exist on earth. So they carry three-foot-long PVC pipes between their legs instead, one hand latched with the desperate clasp of a bull rider.

A few minutes before the match began, a small swarm of dragonflies circled this field on 31st and Chestnut next to the train tracks. But in the minds of the athletes playing competitive Quidditch on this warm afternoon in July, they may as well be flying too. Dodgeballs are now caroming off people so hard that spectators wince from the sidelines. Hit in the face? No matter. Get off your broom and touch your goalposts. Play on. If you have the volleyball, you sprint toward your opponent’s three plastic hula hoops, spinning, juking, jumping, passing. Avoiding tackles and dodgeballs, all with one simple goal: shoot that volleyball through the hoop. A few minutes in, the red team scores. Seconds later, an agile speedster wearing a baby blue North Carolina jersey and a white headband takes the volleyball and runs the length of the field. He weaves through a sea of red, a cheetah with tunnel vision, now only 20 feet away from goal. He’s unstoppable. Until he crashes into the meaty outstretched arm of a red player and crumples to the ground.

“Brooms down!” The whistle of the referee fills the summer air. PVC pipes drop.  Read more »

Calling All Muggles: The Harry Potter Festival Is This Weekend

Photo by Darryl Moran

Photo by Darryl Moran

It’s been almost 20 years since we were introduced to the world of wizards, muggles and He Who Must Not Be Named in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and the obsession is not dying down. Every fall thousands of wand-wielding fans flock to Chestnut Hill to manage some mischief during the two-day Harry Potter Festival.

The festivities start on Friday, October 21st, with the Harry Potter Conference at Chestnut Hill College during the day, followed in the evening by the popular Potter Pub Crawl, with the organizers reporting a record 1,000 tickets snapped up in under eight minutes. Both are already sold out.
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Penn Study: Reading Harry Potter Makes You Less Likely to Vote for Donald Trump

Harry Potter vs. Voldemort, but with Donald Trump instead of Voldemort

Photo illustration: Dan McQuade

For readers of Harry Potter, there may only be one person more scary than Voldemort, the evil wizard referred to as He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named: Donald Trump.

A new study from Penn political science and communication professor Diana Mutz found that reading Harry Potter actually lowers people’s opinions of Donald Trump.

Dr. Mutz had previously studied the influence of fictional television portrayals on people’s beliefs — whether watching an episode of Law & Order where it’s clear the wrong person was put behind bars affected your opinion of the criminal justice system, she gave as an example. As part of a survey of the electorate she has been conducting since 2008, she decided to study Harry Potter’s influence on political beliefs when she had some extra space for questions.

“Even though people know it’s just fiction, it raises in their mind the possibility that mistakes can happen and in that way, alters their real-world policy attitudes,” Mutz tells Philadelphia magazine. “So it didn’t seem beyond the possible that something as popular as Harry Potter could have such an influence. Most of the time we can’t do observational research because the audience for any one storyline that might be out there is pretty small. Harry Potter is unusual in its widespread popularity.” Read more »

Okay People, the Donald Trump Joke Is Over

Left: Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows  (Courtesy of Warner Bros.) Right: Donald Trump in Las Vegas. (John Locher, AP)

Left: Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Courtesy of Warner Bros.) Right: Donald Trump in Las Vegas. (John Locher, AP)

I discovered a new favorite game a couple months ago while rereading the Harry Potter series. I call it, simply, “Who said it: Lord Voldemort or Donald Trump?”

Provided you don’t catch Voldemort during a tender moment, the bigoted egomaniacs have a lot in common. Want to play, for old time’s sake?

“There is no good and evil. There is only power, and those too weak to seek it.” (Voldemort, who apparently read The Art of the Deal)

“My Twitter has become so powerful that I can actually make my enemies tell the truth.” (this one is Trump, master of the Veritaserum serum)

“I can make things move without touching them. I can make animals do what I want without training them. I can make bad things happen to people who are mean to me.” (Voldemort, by a hair)

“Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest — and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure, it’s not your fault.” (Trump, by a less dignified hair)

“I’m putting the people on notice that are coming here from Syria as part of this mass migration, that if I win, if I win, they’re going back.” (Trump, right before outlining his position on mudbloods and muggles)

I’m not the first to connect the dots between the Dark Lord and the Donald. A genius Google Chrome extension changes all mentions of Trump to Voldemort or one of his aliases, including “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named,” “You-Know-Who” or “Tom Riddle.”

It was an amusing little feature for a minute, but honestly, like my Harry Potter game, it’s just not that much fun anymore. Read more »

PHOTOS: Harry Potter Festival 2014

This past weekend Chestnut Hill turned into Hogsmeade as the fourth annual Harry Potter Festival transformed Germantown Avenue into the magical world of witches, goblins, and wizards.



Kicking off the weekend on Friday night there was a pub crawl and costume contest. Saturday morning saw the “Hogswarts Express” filled with Harry Potter characters. The trolley arrived at Chestnut Hill West for a 10 a.m. opening ceremony conducted by Professor Albus Dumbledore (Walt Maguire) and Students from Chestnut Hill Colleges’ Mask & Foil Thespian Club dressed as J.K. Rowling’s famed characters. Chestnut Hill college student Dan Lemoine played Harry Potter to a tee for the third year in a row.

After the ceremony the characters and fans, many of who came dressed as Harry Potter characters or at least sported a witches hat or scarf, enjoyed one of the last days of Indian Summer, taking in the sights as well as all the Harry Potter activities that lined the street, like wand-making, dragon fire-breating and face-painting. Chestnut Hill restaurants offered Harry Potter-inspired edibles, like Golden Snitches and butter beer.

STUDY: Kids Who Read Harry Potter Books More Tolerant of Minorities

harry potter

A nifty new study says that you may be casting a spell on your kids by letting them read Harry Potter series—one that vamooses prejudice. Research just published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology finds that young people who J.K. Rowling’s book wildly popular book series are more likely to have improved attitudes toward stigmatized groups—especially when identifying with the protagonist. More from The Week:

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