Urban Prep's Harry Potter benefit conjures surprise guest

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The advance screening of the latest Harry Potter film benefitted Urban Prep Academies and was a sellout at Imax Navy Pier Theatre. As 450 excited fans poured in, many in costume as wizards, Urban Prep founder Tim King was there in his official capacity as the head wizard of "Hogwarts in the 'hood," as Urban Prep is lovingly called, and he greeted everyone with a smile, a hug and a flick of his wand. "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2", the last film in the Potter franchise, provided 2 hours and 11 minutes of sheer delight, but it was after the film that provided the events' supporters with their biggest surprise. A star in the film, Matthew Lewis, who played Neville Longbottom in all eight of the films, made an unexpected appearance to the delight of screaming fans.

While being interviewed by film critic Richard Roeper, he said, "I remember speaking to Jo Rowling after the fifth film and she said she had just finished writing a great role for me for the finale and that it was in a safe in her home. She's taken this shy, little boy who was bullied at school and who becomes a hero."

Tim King presented Lewis with an Urban Prep 100% baseball cap, which represents the percentage of its students going on to college. The money raised this night will support Study Up! — the Urban Prep program that provides summer internships and academic opportunities for its students. After the film, there was a private VIP reception in Navy Pier's Crystal Gardens. When I asked a young fan if he was sad this was the last film, he said, "We will always have the DVDs and the books, of course." To quote Urban Prep's motto, "We believe." (In magic!)

Click here to see photos from the screening.

Find Candace Jordan's blog at candidcandace.com.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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