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Wizarding Weekend Casts a Spell on Ithaca


Ghosts, vampires and zombies – oh my!

People from the Ithaca area and beyond celebrated magic at the fourth annual Wizarding Weekend, held Oct. 26-28 on The Commons. This year’s festival was “a celebration of magic, science and fantasy.”

To kick things off, attendees were invited to trick-or-treat at businesses downtown. Many were not letting kids get away without saying the magic Halloween words. Inside Center Ithaca, festival-goers found face painting, games, chili, cornbread and punch served by the Greater Ithaca Activities Center’s Teen Catering Program.

A unicorn gets her face painted at the Halloween Party in Center Ithaca. (Photo by Maggie Gorman/Ithaca Week)

Saturday and Sunday brought dozens of events. Local acts performed for the crowds, quidditch games took place and food trucks set up shop. Attendees were also able to enter costume and cosplay contests. If you were feeling a little under the weather, there was even a witch doctor.

In true Halloween fashion, the costumes at the festival did not disappoint.

“Today there was a little kid dressed up as Michael Jackson and that was awesome,” said Stephanie DiNotto of Rosie Applications.

For some, Wizarding Weekend has become a family tradition.

“We have come every year so far. It’s so fun. The kids love trick-or-treating,” said one father.

The festival also welcomed some special guests, including actress Scarlett Byrne, known for her roles as Pansy Parkinson in the Harry Potter series. All guests held question and answer and photo sessions. All proceeds from photo sessions benefitted Wizarding Weekend and local nonprofits.

Rosie Applications’ Stephanie DiNotto enjoys working on The Commons, especially when there’s a festival. (Photo by Maggie Gorman/Ithaca Week)

For many businesses on The Commons, the festival is a highlight of the year.

“It’s so fun to work down here. You can just walk down here and there’s so much activity happening all the time and you get awesome costumes,” said DiNotto.

Also new this year was an augmented reality experience at GorgeKeep School of Magic at Clinton House. Becky Lane and Jacob Madden of local business VisionLab360created an application that served as a “portal,” leading participants along an interactive journey to meet the school’s four “Guardians.”

Proceeds from the weekend go towards covering costs for the festival and to local and regional nonprofit organizations. Wizarding Weekend will fly back to Ithaca next year for more magical fun.

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