Even a bad snow spell could not stop around 600 Harry Potter fans from attending the Salvation Army's annual fundraiser on Saturday.

The local non-profit organization pre-sold 1,000 tickets for the noon event, which included magic classes, an escape room, a costume contest, a quiz contest -responses, various "magical" animals, etc.

This was followed by an official dinner in the evening with silent and live auctions. The organizers sold 275 tickets for the evening. Both were sold, raising more than $ 30,000.

This year's fundraiser was the fifth activity organized by the Salvation Army on the theme of Hogwarts since the fall of 2016, according to Jama Smith, local director of resource development.

"The community loves it," she said.

More than 1,200 volunteer hours were spent preparing, including making big banners for every Hogwarts home, creating homemade wands and hanging twinkling lights in the hallways.

"It's my first," said Major Geffory Crowell, officer in charge of the local Salvation Army. "It's a lot more than I had imagined."

The organizers insist on the need to reuse and value donated goods, as every dollar not spent for the event can be channeled into programming. The money raised is spent entirely locally for services, including an after-school mentoring program, rent and utility assistance, a pantry and a community youth program.

The first-year event raised more than $ 100,000, Smith said. She estimated that this year's total expenditure could be between $ 40,000 and $ 50,000 because of bad weather.

Smith said the tickets had been sold to people in Chicago, Indianapolis, Kentucky and other areas before the snow persuaded them not to travel.

Fundraising is not free, but each activity also includes fees. Fewer people through the door means less extra dollars collected.

Kiersten Mieritz, a volunteer, was seated in a small room reserved for Owl postal parcels. For $ 5 each, people could post a packet of acceptance or rejection.

The acceptance letter, on the "official" Hogwarts stationery, included a list of books and materials that would be needed by new students, as well as a train ticket for the Hogwarts Express to the Hogwarts. autumn.

"Older kids like to send a rejection letter to their friends," said Mieritz.

Mark Kohlhorst, of Mark's Ark in Auburn, brought royal python and snakes, collared doves, hedgehogs, chinchillas, African toads and other "magical creatures" that visitors can to hold and cuddle.

Expectations for these and other activities were relatively short due to low participation, Smith said.

Rory Sweet, 10, has been waiting for the tattoo of a sorting hat or other symbols inspired by Harry Potter. Her Hermione Granger costume included a long Gryffindor coat and a striped tie.

Rory, who lives in Howe, started reading the book series a year and two ago and has just finished fourth. If she had a choice, she would want a potion that would allow her to transform herself into other people.

"I think it would be fun to have powers," she said. "It would be easier to do things."

Her grandmother, Mickie Sweet, could love the power to drive safely in the snow. The Michigan woman was planning a long trip.

Despite the weather, Sweet was glad that they came.

"They did an incredible job," she said of the organizers. "The detail of the different shops – animals and volunteers behave like characters."

The Welch family also explored all things Potter on Saturday.

Ethan, 11, and Oliver, 8, were present with their parents, Scott and Tara. Both boys are big fans of the books, even though Oliver said that he would wait to be in fifth grade – or older – before reading them.

Ethan and his mother read all the books together when he was in third grade. His most cherished wish would be to have a magic power that could get him out of the dishes.

The visit was an adventure for the quartet.

"I did not think we were going out of the evacuation room," Tara Welch said.

"We were there a good fifteen minutes," said Ethan.

Anna Nagle, a professor of biomedical engineering at Indiana Tech, has read all the articles in the J.K. Rowling-written book several times. She attended the fundraiser in a medium blue Ravenclaw vest accented with gray and white stripes. She was also wearing a big white bow in her hair.

She and her husband have visited Harry Potter's wizarding world at the Universal Orlando Resort in Florida. It's good, she said, to hold a Hogwarts-themed event closer to home.

Nagle, who has been married for eleven years, admitted, "I've been in Harry Potter for longer." But she quickly added about her husband, "I did not know him yet!

Just then, her mobile phone rang and Nagle was called to act to help her beloved husband. The problem? He had lost his magic wand.

As the afternoon ended and Smith thought of the formal affair of the evening, she pondered an enigma that even Harry Potter probably did not encounter.

"I wonder," she said, "if I can put snow boots under my prom dress.

sslater@jg.net