Minutes before the Shirley Bird Perry Ballroom opened its doors, a line of students filled the third floor of the Union to its brim. They were waiting for a chance to relive their childhood and go to Hogwarts.
Students gathered Tuesday night for Halloween at Hogwarts, an open-house event with food and games centered around popular book and movie series “Harry Potter.” Activities included wand-making, potion-making and chess, as well as trivia and a scavenger hunt. Refreshments based on snacks in the books were also offered.
Campus Events + Entertainment’s recreation committee hosts a Halloween event with a different theme each year. Government senior Laura Smith, publicity officer for the event, said the planners this year wanted to celebrate a shared love for “Harry Potter.”
“It’s kind of nostalgic at this point,” Smith said. “Everyone watched it as a kid.”
Installments of the “Harry Potter” series were released from 1999 to 2007, but the franchise still permeates pop culture, and characters from the books and movies continue to be common choices for Halloween costumes.
Psychology junior Cole Mooney came dressed in a Slytherin robe, an outfit worn by some students in the series. He was first introduced to “Harry Potter” by his father at age 10 and said he considers the stories to be “the most iconic series that will ever come out via book or film.”
“This is special because (‘Harry Potter’ is) something that is a fan favorite among a broad group of people,” Mooney said. “It gives the nerds of ‘Harry Potter’ the chance to let loose and dress up in a safe environment.”
Chelsea Massaro, a pharmaceutical sciences graduate student who is new to Austin, said she was grateful for a chance to meet new people and engage in her passions.
“It’s an easy way to connect with strangers,” Massaro said. “You have common ground. Obviously if you came here, you love ‘Harry Potter.’ You want to talk about ‘Harry Potter.’ It’s a starting point.”
Smith said social events like these are important for students because they allow students to de-stress and maintain good mental health.
“You can’t just focus on school all the time,” Smith said. “It’s a little draining. It’s nice to have a night where you can relax and just not worry about anything.”