Sure, Figawi Race Weekend is a blast, but how many times in my life would I have the opportunity to mingle with more than 750 J.K. Rowling devotees? So, this past Memorial Day weekend, I decided to skip Nantucket and join the all-ages, international assembly of Potter-heads at Boston's Park Plaza Hotel for LeakyCon 2009, the first conference organized by the all-things-Potter and social-networking site the Leaky Cauldron (the-leaky-cauldron.org).
NOW DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM? In the end, our reporter was trapped in the vise-like grip of Snape, whoever he is.
I confess, I knew next to nothing about the Potter books or movies, but I'm fascinated by the obsession. What is it about this little wizard that delights people so?
"It connects to something deep inside," opined Edward Drogos, editor of leakynews.com. "Harry is so identifiable. He's trying to figure out who he is. That journey is relatable." Another attendee told me that it was Potter's "underdog" status that appeals to fans. "After all, who hasn't been the underdog at some point in their life?"
Following a morning trivia contest ("Who were the three wizards who defeated John Dawlish?" Ah . . . was it Moe, Larry, and Curly?), I sat down to lunch with a wannabe Dumbledore, Minerva, and a few other wizard impersonators. After all of five minutes, it became clear that Potter is to Potterites what Star Trek is to Trekkies: not just a story, not merely a hobby, but an all-consuming way of life. Potterites are dumble-founded when others (okay, me) are less than knowledgeable about the Potterverse. After I inquired who Snape was, for instance, Dumbledore nearly started convulsing. "Who is Snape?" he bellowed incredulously. Luckily, I was saved from that wizard's wrath by the introduction of Michael Goldenberg, the screenwriter for Order of the Phoenix, who distracted the faithful with a short Q-and-A session.
LeakyCon 2009 hosted 70 sessions over the course of three days, ranging from a Wizard Rock performance by Draco and the Malfoys to interactive discussions on such topics as social justice and civil liberties — themes that dominate the books — and panels on the literary and cultural aspects of the Harry Potter phenomena. All proceeds from the conference went to Book Aid International and the Harry Potter Alliance, a group dedicated to spreading love and fighting the Dark Arts in the real world.
By the end of the day, I was ready to return to my Muggle existence, but not before running into none other than . . . the dreaded Snape! I gave myself a pat on the back for actually recognizing him. Hogwarts here I come.
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