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Friday, May 29, 2015

Spending My Quarter Century Year At "Hogwarts"

All right!  Of all the entries that I have done for this blog entry today, I am the most excited for this one.

Not just because this was the year that I turned twenty-five years old.  I mean, let's face it.  Turning a quarter of a century was a big deal, but that wasn't what I remember the most about that year. 

No, I'll get to that in a moment.

But first, I actually have a picture to show you!  After a four or five year hiatus, I actually have a photo taken of me from my 25th year!  Have a look!

Well, okay.  I didn't look THAT much different.  I did wear different glasses and was a lot pudgier in the face, but other than that, I look about the same.

And in pop culture news, let's see what happened the week I turned 25...

#1 SONG THE WEEK OF 5/18/2006

Rihanna is one of those artists who is all over the place.  Some songs I absolutely love ("Pon de Replay", "Shut Up And Drive").  Some I absolutely hate ("Rude Boy", "Diamonds").  This one is one that I can take or leave.

"Mission Impossible III"

Ugh.  Pass.  I've never bought Tom Cruise as being a stealthy super spy.  Of course, this was right around the time that he had that Oprah couch jumping incident where he announced his love for Katie Holmes.  What a difference nine years makes.

"American Idol"

Well, since this show seems to want to stay on top, I may as well talk about it.  This season was best known as the year that Chris Daughtry should have won, the year that Taylor Hicks DID win, and seemingly disappeared shortly after that, the year that Kellie Pickler tried to become the next country sweetheart and the year that Katharine McPhee wowed people with her rendition of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow".  Don't feel too badly for runner-up McPhee though.  She is a star of the CBS drama series "Scorpion".

And, what happened to me this year?  Well, it was the year I got to go to Hogwarts!

Or, at least I went to a party that looked like it was held at Hogwarts.

It was a week before Halloween night, 2006, and my sister had decided to throw a Halloween party for her two kids (also known as my niece and nephew).  And the whole family had a role to play in the party.

You see, everybody in my family became huge fans of the Harry Potter books and movies.  They were so fresh and so out there, and I think my sisters and I could probably quote every single line from the first few movies. 

And since this party was thrown between "Prisoner of Azkaban" and "Goblet of Fire", it was smack dab in the middle of Harry Potter fever.

My sister planned this party for what seemed like six months straight.  She invited every single kid in my niece and nephew's classes, as well as my other two nephews to take part in the festivities where she literally turned her whole house into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

In this entry, I thought that pictures would tell the story better than words.  I snapped some photos of some of the decorations, how the party was planned, and of course, the victory celebrations.  And, hey, if you decide you want to do a Harry Potter themed party, take some of these ideas to heart.  It turned out fantastic!

Now, I assume that the kids all received handwritten invitations inviting them to become students at Hogwarts.  But they had to imagine that they were from owls.  Owls are expensive to rent, you know.

So, the preparations were simple.  We had to decorate each room like a classroom that could be found in Hogwarts.  One way to do this was by taking a bunch of grapes, putting them in water that was dyed green, and using these jars in our potions classroom.

And here is our potions classroom.  I don't know if they ever had NASCAR at Hogwarts, but we certainly had lots of old bottles that made it seem authentic.

Oh, and here's my niece and nephew fooling around with Sybill Trelawney's crystal ball in the divination classroom.  As you can see, every lamp in the house had a coloured light bulb inside of them so that it made the house glow.  As for who played Trelawney?  You'll see that a little later.

This room - actually my sister's garage - was meant to be the main dining hall at Hogwarts.  We have Dumbledore's pedastal, the twinkling lights up above, and even floating jack-o-lantern heads floating above.  After all, this was a Halloween party.  You can't see it in the photo, but there's also a snack table filled with punch and bags of Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans.  Oh, and look at the left hand side.  That's the House Cup!

Okay, so let's take a tour outside.


Actually, these Dementors are perfectly harmless.  They're just skulls with black cloth draped over them.  But hey, you have to admit.  They do look scary.

It was only a shame that it poured down rain at the actual party.  You see, the party was supposed to take place outside in a couple of areas.  As you can see, my sister has a huge backyard that kind of looks like the Forbidden Forest.  The plan was to have golden snitches and Quidditch brooms hanging from the trees to simulate a Quidditch match, but again, the rain caused a bit of a kerfuffle.

Not to mention that the guy who was to play Hagrid was a no-show.  Had we had a Hagrid, this would have been his hut.  But it rained anyway, so it was made redundant.

Now, I mentioned that all of the adults had major parts to play in the party.  My eldest sister played Professor McGonagle, as you can see in this photo of her teaching one of the classes.  She doesn't look a thing like Maggie Smith, but at least she had fun playing the part.

My other sister played Trelawney.  And, I have to say...she really does look like her!  She even talked in a British accent too!

As for my part?  Here it is.

Yes, I played the Sorting Hat.  And how they did it was really cool.  I hid behind a black curtain with a karaoke machine and a microphone that made my voice booming loud.  They wanted me to play the Sorting Hat as my voice was the only one loud enough for everyone to hear.  I think I did a pretty decent job too - even though I had to make sure that two of my nephews were in the same house.

And how the party worked was simple.  There were five different classrooms and five different groups of kids.  Each group had at least one representative of each of the four houses at Hogwarts (Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, Slytherin).  And at each of the classrooms, the teacher would ask Harry Potter related trivia based on magic spells, the books, the movies, and other things.  If they guessed right, they would earn 10 points for their house.  And to ensure that all the kids behaved, we threatened to take five points away each time they misbehaved!  Hey, look at it like this.  Better to have a team of Ron Weasleys than a team of Draco Malfoys!

At the end of the night, the points were tallied up, and the winners of the House Cup was...Ravenclaw!  Congratulations!

Really, the whole party was fun, and I was glad to be a part of it.  I couldn't think of a better memory to add in for year 25 than this one.  I want to do something like this again sometime.

Before I go, I'll share a couple more photos of the party.

And do tune in for year 26 - the year where I met two of the best friends that I have ever had.  Friends who are sadly no longer with us.

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