Adams and Ilvermorny: Residents conjure up ways to capitalize on Mount Greylock's fictional wizardry school
ADAMS — Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling may have created a fictional school of witchcraft and wizardry atop Mount Greylock, but magic has always been swirling around the state's highest peak.
That was the consensus Thursday night among about 35 area residents who participated in a meeting at the Adams Free Library on ways to tap into the Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
The meeting, "Adams and Ilvermorny: A Discussion of Potential Economic Impact," brought people of all ages and interests together to brainstorm about ways to turn the publicity into tangible benefit for the region.
"I never thought I'd be convening a town meeting about Harry Potter," said Town Administrator Tony Mazzucco.
The reference to the school has no direct link to Harry Potter, the character in the wildly successful fantasy series penned by Rowling between 1997 and 2007. Rowling conjured up the school in June as part of a collection of stories titled "Magic in North America." Since then, at least 25 publications have written about it, generating a wave of publicity for the region.
Following welcoming remarks from Mazzucco, Ray Gargan of ProAdams, 1Berkshire Executive Officer Jonathan Butler and state department of Conservation and Recreation Western Division Director Michael Case, several groups formed and strategized the best ways to capitalize on what was termed a "gift" from Rowling.
An education group led by teacher Terri Dudziak suggested that to fully benefit from the Rowling/Potter link to the town, everyone should "know the story" of Harry Potter. There are seven books in the Potter series with several other short stories available, and schools should coordinate with local librarians to create interest in the books. Teachers might try to build lesson plans around the Potter series, the group suggested.
A community/neighborhoods group led by Myra Wilk developed several ideas for events.
"One thing we're very excited about is a reading of the Ilvermorny story," Wilk said. "We could have local actors, and we would want to do it at the Greylock Glen."
A weeklong wizarding celebration at Halloween was another idea from the group.
Andrew Bohn, a landscape architect with the SWCA environmental consulting firm, spoke about conservation group thoughts. Naming new trails with mystical, Potterverse type names and building a "wizard walk" along a new trail system were discussed as was building multi-use trails.
Designating trails so that people can figure out which are easy hikes and which are designed for those wanting a challenge is important, he said.
"Sometimes people like to just hang out by the pond," he said, "and we know there is magic there."
A business collective talked about the importance of getting permission to use anything that might be legally protected and also considered seeking licensing agreements with entities such as Warner Bros. film studio, which has made the Harry Potter movies, as well as other companies. Creating a Wizard Fair to complement the town's Faerie Festival and creating an Ilvermorny-like school using virtual reality technology also was discussed.
Tapping into virtual reality is a wonderful idea, said millennial group leader Amanda Zepka.
"Virtual reality, that's great," she said. "I wish we'd thought of it."
The group did think of creating Quidditch World Cup events, Quidditch clubs and encouraging young adults to engage in the promotion process. Quidditch is a fictional game referenced in several of the Harry Potter books.
Genuine opportunity to generate tourism interest because of the Rowling school siting exists, Mazzucco emphasized at meeting outset. The entire Potter franchise has an estimated value of $15 billion and 450 million books are in print in 73 languages. The approximate value of a first edition Harry Potter book is $40,000, he said.
Mazzucco stressed that he is a "huge fan" of the Harry Potter series and the writing of Rowling, and that he intends to increase the Ilvermorny momentum in the area.
"This is the beginning, not the end," he said as the meeting closed. "There will be follow-ups. I'm going to wear a robe to the office on Halloween."
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