By Rachelle MILLER
Once Upon a Time, there was a boy who lived, and witches, wizards and Muggles of all ages rejoiced.
It has been 20 years since the release of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” (UK) and in July, Once Upon a Time Bookstore in Montrose held a month-long “Here’s Harry in Montrose” hunt that culminated in a party of magical proportions on the evening of July 31. Normally during the summer, Once Upon A Time holds its Where’s Waldo? scavenger hunt. But this year, OUAT owner Maureen Palacios sent Waldo on a tropical holiday and brought in the boy himself, Harry Potter, to confound and delight all who went in search of him.
Magic and Muggles folk picked up their Montrose Marauders Map at OUAT and were then sent on their way to find a small cardboard figure of Harry Potter at 10 hand-picked Montrose Shopping Park businesses. When Harry was found at each location, the maps would be stamped or initialed indicating that the boy wizard had been discovered at that site.
Palacios said she was very selective about the businesses she chose to participate in the hunt. The staff at Andersen’s Pet Store was so good at hiding Harry that Snape himself would have offered a sneer of approval. Paradis employee Danielle, who would have been sorted into Hufflepuff for her sun-shiny attitude and smile, took the time to move the boy wizard every day. Twigs & Things and Rest Farmhouse Inspired offered tiny clues (and knowing smiles) to those who needed them.
A favorite site was the Glendale Area Schools Credit Union, which transformed everyday Muggles pennies into magical gold Gringotts Wizarding Bank coins that were redeemed at a dispenser for a small handful of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans.
When hunters located all the hidden Harrys, they returned the completed map to the bookstore where they were given a 20th anniversary Harry Potter bookmark and temporary tattoo. The map was also entered for prize drawings that were announced at the OUAT party.
For the party, Once Upon a Time staff magically transformed the bookstore into Platform 9¾. Once guests were sorted into their “house” they received a magic hand stamp (RSVP Guest List), which was shown to Sirius Black when entering the magical town Daigon Alley. Additionally, Palacios and her staff brought the Potter books to life by becoming favorite characters, turning the store into several favorite magical businesses and serving up yummy treats that the Leaky Caulderon would have been jealous of. The evening was a delight for attendees and there was little doubt that many Potter party-goers drifted off to sleep with smiles on their faces and wands in their hands.