On July 15th, 2011, one of the biggest franchises ever came to an end when ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2’ hit theaters. For some, it truly marked the end of their childhood years, as they grew up with Harry, Ron, and Hermione first on the page and then onscreen. Though JK Rowling’s tale of the Boy Who Lived has come to an end, the fans will never forget the impact that Harry Potter had in their lives.
As a celebration of all things Potter, a year after credits rolled on ‘Deathly Hallows Pt. 2′, fans descended upon Chicago, Illinois for the third LeakyCon, a Harry Potter fan convention organized by journalist and author Melissa Anelli and LeakyNews that gathered people from all corners from the fandom to share in a wonderful weekend of whimsy. And I was lucky enough to attend the con and experience first hand just how magical LeakyCon is.
When we first walked into the Chicago Hilton on the first of four days, my crew and I felt like we were walking into Hogwarts. There were banners hanging from arches and hordes of people decked out in dress robes and house colors. Within the first few minutes of being in that hotel lobby, a Starkid sing along broke out and fans were singing ‘Going Back to Hogwarts’ from ‘A Very Potter Musical’. Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay very long because there were some special press only events that we had to attend.
The first thing on the agenda after picking up our press badges was a press Q&A with some members of Team Starkid. Joining us for the session was music director Clark Baxtresser along with actors Dylan Saunders and Brian Holden. They talked mostly about their new play, ‘A Very Potter Musical 3D: A Very Potter Senior Year’, debuting later in the weekend, but they also touched on their other projects, their creative process, and the tours that they embarked on the past two summers. If you’re a fan of Team Starkid, I’ll be getting more in depth with their involvement in LeakyCon in a future article.
After that Q&A, Luna Lovegood herself, Evanna Lynch, came into the pressroom for another Q&A with Robbie Jarvis (young James Potter) and William Melling (Nigel Wolpert). The three of them reminisced about their time on set, what they were up to these days, and the impact that the Harry Potter franchise has had on them. For the rest of the weekend, these cast members were joined by Louis Cordice (Blaise Zabini) for panels, autograph signings, and other events all over the weekend, giving fans the opportunity to meet some of the inhabitants of Hogwarts.
The next day, dressed in my Slytherin house colors, I took in some programming around the convention. However, I was a bit confused. Not only was there a huge Harry Potter presence, as expected, but there was also ‘Doctor Who’, ‘Glee’, ‘The Hunger Games’, ‘Star Wars’, and comic book fandoms well represented around the con floor. What I discovered was that LeakyCon wasn’t just about Harry Potter. Rather, it was an outlet for fans of all kinds. Yeah, mostly it was a celebration for Harry Potter, but there was so much more to experience. A few of the panels that I tried to attend included “Minorities in Harry Potter”, “The Wonderful World of Whedon”, “A New Hope For The Boy Who Lived”, and “Leaky News Comics Panel”. To get to all the interesting things being offered at LeakyCon, you’d need a Time Turner to get to all the awesome things.
Despite all fandoms being welcome like a real life version of Tumblr, naturally the event was headlined by fans of JK Rowling’s creation, specifically some of those that grew to have fans of their own. I already mentioned Team Starkid of ‘A Very Potter Musical’ fame and some cast members from the WB film adaptations of the books, but there was also the Potter Puppet Pals, various wizard rock bands like Harry and the Potters, Ministry of Magic, The Whomping Willows, and other well-known and talented fans like John and Hank Green and Maureen Johnson. Attendees were able to come face to face with some of the most creative people to grace the internet with music, plays, and puppets.
On Saturday night, after an eventful few days, all the LeakyCon goers unwound a bit at the 2nd Annual Esther Earl Rocking Charity Ball. Guests and attendees alike danced and mingled the night away. For those witches and wizards of age, like my lovely camera girl and I, there were some pretty awesome specialty drinks available at the bar. For instance, there was alcoholic pumpkin juice and butterbeer. I only indulged in the latter, but I can tell you that it was delicious. And it came in a cauldron! I can also tell you that the next morning everyone at LeakyCon was a little slow moving, obviously because everyone was so tired from dancing.
After all was said and done, I can honestly say that LeakyCon was unlike any convention that I’ve ever been to. Besides the big difference of the frequent sing alongs, the vibe of the whole weekend was like coming home to your friends after being away for a while. It just so happened that all the friends you were coming back to all love Harry Potter and miss it just as much as you do. I’d say that the whole weekend could be summed up best by this quote from ‘A Very Potter Sequel’: “No matter how long you’re away from Hogwarts, there’s always a way back.” In case you were looking for something more than reading the books or watching the movies again, then LeakyCon is your way back. If you’re interested in attending next year, you have two chances because there will be two LeakyCons next year in Portland, Oregon and London, England.
Photos provided by Elbert Silverio and Kaytie Hubis