Macomb prepares for Quidditch Championships

Erika Ward

 Young adults will bring the mystical world of Harry Potter to Veteran’s Park, located off East University Drive, on Nov. 21 and 22 as Macomb plays host to the Midwest RegionalQuidditch Tournament.

 Quidditch is a game that originates from the Harry Potter book series written by J.K. Rowling.  However, instead of flying and using magic, the players run with brooms between their legs.

 Nikki Gray, executive director of the Macomb Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Rachel Lenz, superintendent of the Macomb Park District, hosted representatives from US Quidditch Association (USQ) to have Veteran’s Park evaluated for the potential use of the regional tournament.  After getting approval from USQ on Aug. 10, the two are reaching out forcommunity involvement.

 “One of the things they really like to encourage with the US Quidditch Association is to have as much vendor and community involvement (as possible),” Gray said.  “There are different things that we’ve looked up that we hope that some of our local businesses will take on.”

 Gray also put a lot of emphasis on Quidditch being a recognized National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) sport and becoming seperate from Harry Potterand Rowling.

 “It’s really important to US Quidditch that we focus more heavily on the sport than Harry Potter, but they do understand that that really just comes along with it,” Gray said.

 Gray and Lenz have an idea to advertise the event and spark curiosity inthe community.

 “There is a six-foot-long Harry Potter that is remote controlled, accessed much like a remote control helicopter is, that’s something that we would be so interested in approaching,” Gray said.  “We’re kind of looking to approach that on our own, especially to have a banner behind it and have it going around town to advertise the event leading up to it.”

 The tournament is a substance-free event and takes place the weekend before Thanksgiving break.  Gray and Lenz hope that students from Western Illinois University will volunteer.

  Both emphasized that this tournament is an opportunity for the community businesses to get involved and gain exposure.

“(USQ) really wants this regional to turn into, or become, not only something wonderful for the athletes, but they’re also very spectator focused,” Lenz said.  “So having food vendors there, or different family entertainment available, doing post-tournament attractions, that’s really where community gets the opportunity to shine and be a part of (it) and make it special and unique.”

Gray went on to discuss the opportunities for local businesses during the tournament.

“These athletes will be going throughout the community,” Gray said.  “A part of this bid pack is that they are all encouraged, by the US Quidditch Association, to go out into the community, to go out to eat, to look at the little stores and to be exposed and be that representation for Quidditch.”

Gray and Lenz are currently looking for more vendors.  Jimmy Johns has already its their services as a healthier option during the tournament.  Volunteers are also needed for the event.

The tournament is a free event that will happen regardless of the weather.  The event takes place on a Saturday and Sunday, but participants are expected to begin arriving the Friday before or sooner.

Local business owner, Susan Tex, has already started preparations for promotion of the event, including purchasing different broomsticks and a talking Sorting Hat replica.

“I think it’s going to be great,” Tex said.  “Fun, and new, something that is not the same old, same old.”