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Students return to Hogwarts amidst pandemic restrictions


By Grace Peacore and Caroline Peacore

On Friday, Oct. 30, the eve of Halloween, St. Olaf celebrated its annual Harry Potter Night despite increased COVID-19 restrictions and the recent shift to a yellow alert level. The After Dark Committee (ADC) and Student Activities Committee (SAC) put in lots of hard work to provide a series of safe yet engaging activities for students throughout the night.

The cafeteria was decorated as much as it could be while allowing for social-distancing guidelines. Although there were no long house tables, Bon Appetit still served themed food such as “Hogsmeade Ham.” House banners hung in the cafeteria, and “floating  candles” hung from the ceiling to emulate the Great Hall at Hogwarts. Even in the ballrooms, an additional socially-distanced space on campus where students can eat, Quidditch decorations adorned the wall and multiple screens showed a clip of the Quidditch match from the film “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”

Some faculty members dressed as witches or wizards, and Buntrock Commons was full of decorations, including a fireplace with floating letters to represent Harry’s own acceptance to Hogwarts. There was even a trail of spiders to reference “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.” ADC and SAC put up printouts of the Daily Prophet — the wizarding world’s newspaper — and “Wanted” posters depicting certain characters on the wall to create an immersive atmosphere.

ACD and SAC organized activities such as quill-making, providing take-home bags with materials to create quills made from pens and ribbons of a Hogwarts house of choice. There were also take-home cookies, tea, potion kits and Butterbeer, a popular drink in the wizarding world.

The most exciting part of the night was a pop-up performance in the crossroads of Buntrock Commons. The Tap Dance Collective performed a short dance, Nina Vang ’21 sang and various dance teams performed in costume. Seeing the balconies around crossroads full of students cheering on the dancers was something we have not seen much of this year, and it was exciting to have some energy back in Buntrock.

Despite COVID-19 restrictions, ADC and SAC tried their best to capture the magic of past Harry Potter Night celebrations, and engaging with this tradition sure gave these two sisters something to smile about on Friday night. Thank you, Harry Potter, for providing a much-needed escape!

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