Though scheduled squarely in the middle of Halloween season, the kids riding broomsticks Saturday in Oak Lawn weren’t emulating stereotypical witches. Rather, they were playing a game that originally involved wizards, or at least wizards in training.
Norah Smith, 10, of Oak Lawn is a huge fan of the Harry Potter books and movies, so when the opportunity for her to participate in a Quidditch match arose, she knew she couldn’t miss her chance. She and a group of fellow fans gathered for the matches in a small park just outside the Oak Lawn Public Library.
“They’re having tons of fun,” said Norah’s mom, Noreen Smith, as she watched her daughter and seven other children play the game. “She couldn’t wait to do this. It’s all she talked about.”
Quidditch is the most popular sport in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It features prominently in several of the movies, particularly when Harry Potter wins a key match for his team, Gryffindor.
The game is similar to basketball or soccer in that teams move a ball across a field and try to throw through a hoop on the other end.
But instead of dribbling or kicking the ball, players hold the ball while riding flying broomsticks, at least in the stories.
Saturday’s games were organized by librarians with the Oak Lawn library, Melissa Apple, Amber Leigh-Birkholz and Izabel Gronski.
“We found it’s a game that can be easily played based on an endearing book series that is loved by people of all ages,” Apple said.
She said they’ve organized games a few times over the past two years and people were asking for it again.
Saturday’s games were organized by age group in one-hour increments, but turnout became low when rain moved through the area.
Norah and her friends were able to squeeze a few games in between rain showers but the children became very muddy in the process.
The library’s Quidditch game remained true to the story, though the organizers couldn’t find any broomsticks that would actually fly. So players had to hold the broomsticks between their legs as they ran across the field.
Lilly Moore, 10, of Oak Lawn, said having a ground-based match was probably a good thing, considering what would have happened to her brother, Larry, 7, had he been on an flying broomstick while playing the game Saturday.
“He dropped his broomstick,” she said. “He would’ve fell about 20 feet.”
Their dad, Jim Moore, said Lilly is a fan of Harry Potter and was excited for the chance to play Quidditch, but Larry was a little reluctant at first.
“Larry thought he wanted to stay home and play video games but I can tell he’s happy playing (Quidditch),” he said.
Moore was tempted to join in on the fun himself.
“I’m not a Harry Potter fan, but I would definitely play this game,” he said. “It looks fun.”
But not enough adults showed up for the scheduled time as storms loomed.
Still, there was enough interest that Smith could see the possibility of the Quidditch tournaments growing, especially if the matches coincided with nicer weather. She wondered if the library could host the game every week.
Apple said they’ll look into hosting more games, but hosting matches every week might be difficult because of staffing concerns.