Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Harry Potter convention focused to inspire youth

     Thousands of Harry Potter fans from around the world met at the Lowes Royal Pacific Hotel in Universal Studios Florida for the LeakyCon 2011 convention last week. This annual charity event was bolstered by the release of the final Potter film “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2”, and a plethora of guest speakers, entertainers, live shows, and much “Pottermore.”

     Costumed fans and players from the International Quidditch Association, Inc, a nonprofit organization promoting the sport of Quidditch in colleges and high schools around the world, give the impression that this is only a mass gathering of Potter- heads sharing their same fantasy interest or “Fandom.” But this event is much more in promoting and encouraging a love of literature and the art of storytelling and inspiring children to read.

     The opening events “Lit Day” centered on several literary discussion panels. The first involved a group of five young adult authors speaking about how books; and being obsessed with books, fostered their writing and inspired their lives.

     “I love the fact that people are coming together about books, and that doesn’t happen often” said Libba Bray a New York Times best selling author. “I have to say that LeakyCon is 12 kinds of awesome.”

(Click above to watch video)
(Produced by James Tutten)

     In addition to the focus on literature, attendees were treated to interviews and a question and answer session which included 10 actors from the final Harry Potter film.

     “I want to make LeakyCon its own country, I never want to leave” said Evanna Lynch, who played the character Luna Lovegood in six of the Potter movies.

     The five day extravaganza also featured a performance by “Team starKid” a group of theater students from the University of Michigan. Their production of a Harry Potter themed musical has received millions of views on YouTube and helped spark the career of new Glee cast member Darren Criss.

     Potter fans in attendance were all very passionate about the overall message of the book and film series. "Magic is real, as long as you have the imagination to think of a better world, then you can make this a better world" said Lucy Stambaugh an enthusiastic fan with bright pink hair and dressed in young wizard garments.

     All the events of this convention worked to raise money for two main charities focused on literacy awareness. Book Aid International has been promoting literacy for disadvantaged people in Sub- Sahara Africa since 1956. Funds also go to The Harry Potter Alliance, a nonprofit organization, which inspires youth around the world to get involved in social issues, such as protecting thousands of woman and children in Darfur and Burma.

     For more information on the events around this year’s convention go to their web site at or the fan based site at

By James Tutten

(Published: July 20, 2011 issue of "Valencia Voice" on page 5.)

(All photos by James Tutten)

Glee star Darren Criss performs with "starKids."

Celebrity panel with 10 actors from the last Potter Film.

(All photos by James Tutten)


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