1,000 Harry Potter fans celebrate fandom in epic roller skating event

LOS ANGELES -- More than 1,000 'Harry Potter' fans attended the Harry Potter Skating Night event on Saturday, April 16. Attendees donned their best Harry Potter costumes, drank butter beer and skated the night away while celebrating the beloved books and movies, and the fan community that brings them together.

"I had heard about this event and I love Harry Potter. I love everything about the world J.K. Rowling has created," Robert Seutter, who works as a professional storyteller, told ABC. "This was the place to find my people."

It was the fifth annual Harry Potter skating event, presented by the Los Angeles Dumbledore's Army (LADA), the second largest Harry Potter fan club in the world with over 1,600 members. Held at the Moonlight Rollerway in Glendale, Calif., fans stood in a line wrapped around the entire venue, dressed as their favorite characters. Costumes ranged from the easily recognized Harry Potter, Dumbledore, and Luna Lovegood to the more obscure Giant Squid said to inhabit the Great Lake on the Hogwarts' school grounds.

"I loved roller skating growing up," wrote event organizer Adrienne Alwag-Aipia wrote in an email to ABC. "[I] thought it would be a great tie-in with Harry Potter if we infused the music from the films, costume contests, Butterbeer, free raffles and Harry Potter hand-made merchandise and themed candy."

The not-for-profit club reached out to Harry Potter retailers to support the event with donations supporting the raffle and costume contest prizes.

"These books changed my life in so many ways, mostly by giving me a social life," LADA Leadership member and newsletter editor Jessica Zipay told ABC. "Finding a group of people who are as passionate about something as I am, that I can hang out with, and do nerdy things with, who like doing the same things I do, is so important to have in your life. Especially as an adult."

Later in the night, the massive crowd stopped skating for a "raising of the wands" ceremony that paid tribute to the life of actor Alan Rickman, who had played the role of Professor Severus Snape in the films. Feeling a strong connection to the often misunderstood character, and the actor who played him, fans worldwide were saddened earlier this year when news broke that Rickman had passed away after his battle with cancer.

Zipay added that the books helped her grieve over her father's death in 2007.

"These books deal very heavily with death, and they're all about the questions of death. The author, J.K. Rowling, wrote them to help with her own mother's death so they are very profound," said Zipay. "The way that she deals with death, and talks about death, was incredibly comforting to me during my grieving process."

All of the fans interviewed by ABC said that the community surrounding Harry Potter helped them make "lifelong friends" and get support during life trials.

"Harry Potter means two things: number one, that the cauldron of inspiration is still going; that we can all find something in the movies to inspire us. And secondly, Harry Potter -- himself -- is a really good example of a hero. Despite everything happening to him, he keeps a great soul," said Seutter. "I think everybody who is touched by this carries a little bit of that spirit."
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