All wizards are invited to join Plant City Main Street tomorrow for a special celebration in honor of Harry Potter’s birthday.
Plant City will once again pay homage to The Boy Who Lived as muggles and wizards alike are invited to a socially distanced version of Harry Potter’s Birthday Celebration tomorrow in historic downtown.
For the past two years, Greg Williams has rallied the businesses in the downtown core to embrace their Hogwarts houses and throw a party none would soon forget. Last year, visitors flocked from all over, including a family from the panhandle and a wizarding group from Orlando. Plant City has gained a reputation from increasing the magic of the festive event each year and this time, despite the pandemic, the businesses are ready to do it again — though with an altered mindset.
Williams is now the chair of the Plant City Main Street Downtown Merchants Committee. Main Street is stepping in to bring the event to life again while making sure everyone is following CDC guidelines and social distancing.
When young witches and wizards arrive downtown, they are asked to come to King’s Cross, aka the Robert W. Willaford Railroad Museum, and register with Main Street. The group will check temperatures at its booth and hand out brochures with the participating businesses and safety guidelines on the back. Then attendees can move through the railroad depot toward Platform 9 3/4. Several photo opportunities have been built so families can snap pictures of themselves pushing a buggy with their luggage and owl cage through the platform wall toward the Hogwarts Express.
“This is the goal of the Merchants Committee,” Williams said. “We want to bring people downtown and with the partnership of Main Street and the city, we can do so safely while still really highlighting our businesses here.”
Main Street wants to protect all who visit the wizarding world, so face masks are required. They will provide free masks while supplies last. There will be plenty of time for everyone to stroll through the experience at their leisure. The event is scheduled from 12 to 7 p.m., though some stores are sticking to their normal business hours and may close earlier.
Any witch, wizard or muggle who feels under the weather is asked to stay home. Main Street posted on its social media that it is crucial we all do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19 while also supporting the small businesses that form the backbone of our community.
Once attendees have traveled to Hogwarts, their wizarding adventures will begin. Businesses throughout downtown will participate in the event and will have their own magical creations available for those who pop in.
To help with social distancing, those participating are asked to stay with their Hogwarts housemates. Don’t mingle with other houses. You are in charge of your own adventure, so you can go in any direction you please.
If you wish to be sorted into a house, head to Brick City Bricks and bite into a sorting cupcake. Will green icing be your fate? Or perhaps you’re aiming to see a shining blue swirl within? The store will also have Harry Potter LEGO specials throughout the event.
The Brick House Cafe is also offering Sorting Hat cupcakes as well as golden snitch cake pops and quidditch popcorn brooms for kids with the purchase of a meal.
Perhaps you’re dismayed at the abundance of muggle decor in the home you’ve been quarantining in? Fear not: two stores have a perfect answer for you. TubTreats Bath & Body is selling specially made Harry Potter-themed soaps and products. Spirit Art Gallery is featuring Harry Potter furniture, including Hedwig tables, owl and dragon chairs and a dragon trunk.
Those who have had their happiness strained by a dementor are in luck. You don’t need to summon your patronus, just hop on over to The Kandy Shoppe and pick up some chocolate frogs.
Walking all over downtown will surely whip up an appetite. Fly on over to Krazy Kup for a frothy butterbeer or take some floo powder to pop into the Floor Network and swing by The Corner Store for butterbeer cupcakes and pumpkin drinks. The Industry is also offering a specialty drink in honor of the special event. Dark Horse Music will have chocolate wands.
Professor Filius Flitwick apparated into K.E.Y. Esthetics this week and charmed a plethora of keys to protect their great discounts. The flying charms each hold a special discount and the store will also have a fun book of beauty enchantments.
If you’re new to Hogwarts and in need of a wand, have no fear. Ollivander himself stopped by Carlson Gracie and is sponsoring a Harry Potter Wand giveaway.
Dealing with the pressure of passing your OWL exams while juggling the stress of fighting basilisks and Death Eaters can cause any witch or wizard to break. Take some of the anxiety away by stopping at Aromatic Harmony. The store is offering magic chair massages and a BOGO sale on enchanting teas and herbs.
Clever Massage has created a lotion potion in honor of Harry’s birthday. It is also offering broom pens and a $10 off coupon. The Honey Pot Wax Studio is leaping off the broom with its golden snitch balls and specials. The studio is also offering a magical raffle basket. Entries are $1 and you could win a a makeup brush set, a $25 gift card, Harry Potter goodies and more.
Of course no Slytherin, Gryffindor, Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff outfit is complete without Harry Potter house stacked bracelets, which are available at Tennessee Jane Boutique.
We’ve all dreamed of donning our quidditch robe and becoming the best keeper or chaser in Hogwarts history. I Hate My Kid’s Trainer is giving you the chance to earn your house glory with its specially crafted Quidditch Obstacle Course.
Other magical deals include 75 percent off of select items at Miss Ruby’s Antiques, a Harry Potter gift with any purchase at The Mercantile and five percent off any repair with Hogwarts Spirit at The Device Clinic.
“There’s a lot of new businesses stepping up this year,” Jeremy Rhodes, vice president of Main Street, said. “The merchants were going to do it again because they’ve really established this great event over the years, so we wanted to support our downtown and step in and help with safety protocols and really just keep the momentum going. We are all working together to make this a successful event and the hope is, even though this year we are having to really focus on safety, that next year this event will only continue to grow and we can really make it a massive experience.”
As attendees navigate throughout the day, they should remember there is a hand sanitization station back at the depot so they can kill any germs they may have come in contact with before heading to the next stop on their journey if they don’t bring portable hand sanitizer with them.
The fun doesn’t end after the last shop closes its doors. Throughout the event, attendees are invited to snap photos of their magical experiences — whether at the multiple photo ops at Kings Cross, their favorite businesses or doing magic throughout downtown is entirely up to their discretion — and then send them to Main Street via a private message on Facebook. A virtual costume contest will then take place. On Friday, Main Street will post all the photos it has received and voting will begin. The photo with the most likes by Sunday evening will be the winner and they will receive a special downtown gift basket.
If prior years are any indication, this event will undoubtedly be a fun experience for all who attend and will draw families and friends from across the state.
“Everybody loves Harry Potter,” Williams said. “It’s the same as with our May the Fourth event. Anything that has a big following really draws people to downtown. People come from all over and now, when you incorporate Main Street’s influence and the city, I really think it’s going to take this a step further than we’ve done before.”
For more information on the event, head to Plant City Main Street’s Facebook page or pop over to plantcitymainstreet.org. If you would like to volunteer for the event, head to the Facebook page to sign up.
If You Go
Harry Potter’s Birthday Celebration
When: Friday, July 31 from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Where: Downtown Plant City, 102 N. Palmer St.
Cost: Free to attend.