Downtown Plant City Celebrated 3rd Annual Harry Potter Celebration
by James Coulter
Wizards and muggles alike congregated in Downtown Plant City on Friday to celebrate the birthday of the Boy Who Lived.
The downtown train station turned into Platform 9 3/4. The local coffee shop served Butter Beer. And the Harry Potter movie theme blared over the downtown audio system.
Many visitors got into the spirit by dressing in wizard robes. Some even participated in the virtual costume contest. Participants snapped photos of themselves and uploaded them to the Plant City Main Street Facebook page to be judged.
More than a dozen local stores and eateries offered special Harry Potter-themed activities, goodies, and specials. The Brick House Cafe served burgers and fries for $9 and 3/4. The Krazy Kup served Butter Beer frappes. And the Kandy Shoppe sold Chocolate Frogs.
Plant City Main Street set up a special photo-opp location at the old train station. Banners of the four Hogswarts houses proudly flew, and a luggage cart with a stuffed Hedwig owl in a cage was set near Platform 9 3/4.
To ensure everyone’s safety and health, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, guests were advised to wear masks, social distance, and receive temperature checks at the photo-opp area.
For the past three years, the annual downtown event has been celebrating Harry Potter’s birthday on July 31. The celebration was started by Greg Williams, owner of Brick City Bricks, and a new member of the Plant City Main Street Board.
Opening his store two years ago, Williams wanted to help create several events that would draw in people to the downtown area, especially the local shops and eateries. As the Harry Potter franchise continues to remain popular, the event has grown bigger and better every year, Williams said.
“Just to see the people come out…it is just awesome [seeing them] dressing up in their costumes and having a good time,” Williams said. “That is what it is all about. We want to bring people downtown to have a good time….Anything that brings people downtown, that is what it is all about, the business owners, the community, it brings people together.”
Hosting this year’s celebration during the middle of a pandemic proved challenging. But even with safety measures in place, this year’s event drew in a great turnout, explained Jeremy Rhodes, Vice President of Plant City Main Street.
“It is an excellent turnout,” Rhodes said. “Last year…they had 200 attendants…[It’s great to see] community involvement, just people coming down and seeing what Plant City has to offer and all the unique shops and eateries and what the city has to offer in general as a historic district.”
The event has been hosted by the city’s merchant committee, and this was the first year that the Plant City Main Street became involved. Overall, the event continues to grow in popularity and size, and will hopefully continue growing strong as long as the Harry Potter franchise does.
“[It’s all about] the love of the Harry Potter movies, the adventures, being able to dress up and take part in the adventure,” he said.