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Harry Potter-mania hits Iowa City

BY ALISON SULLIVAN | NOVEMBER 18, 2010 7:20 AM

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Brooms clash, bodies smash, and far off in the distance, two seekers — battling the November chill — keep their eyes peeled for the coveted golden snitch.

With the strings from her purple hat whipping about her head, Halle Hudson waves a flag in the air as a chaser lobs a quaffle through a brightly colored ring.

"Goal," the University of Iowa freshman cries through the frozen air.

Hudson and three other friends organized the quidditch match and several other Harry Potter-theme activities for Daum residents in the days leading up to the release of the final movie.

The movie depicts the first part of the last book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. With its midnight release today, comes the final chapter, and fans couldn't be more anxious.

"It's a generational thing," Hudson said about the activities' popularity among UI students. "It's just the right time."

Since the beginning of November, each of the eight floors in Daum is paired with another to make up the four Hogwarts houses from Harry Potter's fictional school: Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, Slytherin, and Gryffindor.

There are quidditch matches. There's a House Cup. There's a Yule Ball in December. There's even a Moaning Myrtle in one of the bathrooms.

The Harry Potter series, written by J.K. Rowling, is nothing short of a global phenomenon, having sold more than 400 million copies and having been translated into 69 languages since the first book's release in 1997.

"It's grounded in the real world," said Madhu Koduvalli, a Daum resident and self-proclaimed addict of the books.

Koduvalli, who plans to attend the première dressed as villain Bellatrix Lestrange, said she couldn't stop reading the books since she started in fourth grade.

"It almost makes it seem that if you go to London and go to Platform nine and three quarters, you'll be able to go to the wizarding world," the UI sophomore said.

The Coral Ridge 10 cinema in Coralville began selling tickets for the midnight showing the week of Oct. 22. By the beginning of November, they were sold out.

"It's great actually working the midnight showing," said Nick Boettcher, the general manager. "The customers who come in are dressed up … the energy they bring to the theater is exciting. It's rubbed off on me."

In addition to Daum, other residence halls are holding events for the movie. These types of group activities are normal, said Robin Rosenberg, a clinical psychologist and author from Cambridge, Mass.

It is no different from a group of football fans going to watch a football game, said Rosenberg, who contributed an essay in the book Psychology of Harry Potter.

The ability to take readers to a detailed world outside themselves contributes to the success of the books, she said.

"I think that one of the things Rowling did unbelievably well was to create this fully immersive environment," Rosenberg said. "It fully brings you into another world."

On Nov. 7, 15 students gathered in the basement of Daum for a scavenger hunt to find the seven horcruxes hidden around campus — the basis for much of the last book's plot.

The houses dashed around looking for clues, "dark marks," and persuading anyone they met to join the Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare for extra bonus points.

And each floor's quidditch teams competed in a tournament held the first two Saturdays in November.

UI sophomore Daniel Morse has yet to play his beloved game, though he set up the quidditch matches after adapting the rules based on other colleges.

Toward the end of the game, fans lets out a cry and heads turned toward the Pentacrest lawn.

Motion on the field came to an abrupt stop as everyone watched the one student clad in gold —the coveted golden snitch — sprint down the sidewalk, two seekers huffing and puffing in hot pursuit at his heels.

The snitch was victoriously captured by UI senior Corin Nisly.

"It was pretty exhilarating," Nisly said afterwards between gulps of air. "I caught it on a dive."


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