On Friday evening, as I neared completion of my daily return to Naperville from my job in Des Plaines, I took my usual route west on Ogden Avenue to Washington Street to Spring Avenue for my traffic avoidance short cut through downtown. Though I unfortunately cannot add “work” to the “live” and the “play” aspects of my proud Naperville existence, I take this route to at least pay a quick visit to downtown on my way home each day.
On this particular warm hallowed July eve, I turned onto Eagle Street from Spring Avenue and began to notice that not only had traffic congestion found it’s way to my top secret daily shortcut, but slews of families and children wearing crisp white shirts and skinny black ties seemed to be descending in a pilgramage-like manner upon downtown heading toward Jefferson Avenue.
Alas, as it was finally my turn to pause at the stop sign postioned at the intersection of Eagle Street and Jefferson Avenue, I glanced briefly to my left and immediately doubled back in awe to see an ocean of Pottermania gaining an impressive stronghold on Jefferson Avenue. I suddenly remebered that Friday night was the big night for The Party that Shall Not Be Named which would celebrate the arrival of the final chapter of the Harry Potter phenomena.
Given the fact my two young boys are more fixated on the simpler entry-level read of Farkle McBride rather than the thick volumes of Potter, a visit to the big party was unfortunately not on our evening agenda. Nonetheless, I have nothing but wonderful things to say about the big party and the magical Harry Potter.
To me, it’s a thrill to see how excited kids are about reading given the stimulus-rich technological world in which they live. On Saturday, we were invited to another block party within our subdivision and despite a moon jump, an air-enriched human bungee tethered foot race of retractable peril, plenty of indulgent sugary delights and, of course, plenty of bean bags, many of the kids either had their heads stuck in the final Harry Potter installment or were excitedly running around shouting updates on their progress to their friends and family alike.
Congratulations to Patti Roberts and the Downtown Naperville Alliance as well as the overall downtown business community for staging a truly magical event to usher in the final volume of the Harry Potter series. While the overall count estimated by those keeping the muggle peace has reached into the 60,000 – 70,000 range, the big success story which seems to have been somewhat overlooked is that of the immediate and longer term economic impact of this worthy family event. A crowd of this size translates into big dollars for downtown merchants and restaurants, which translates into tax dollars for our community. Additionally, the event created yet another prime opportunity to demonstrate to visitors and the outside world alike why Naperville is a magical place in it’s own right. Finally, the media coverage derived from the event as well as the word-of-mouth buzz is priceless.
The Party that Shall Not Be Named was as much a celebration of Naperville as it was Harry Potter. Few communities in our population demographic could pull off an event of this scale with not only the enthusiastic attendace but also the vision, creativity and strong support of the local downtown business community.
For those who may not know, the Downtown Naperville Alliance (DNA) was created six years ago by downtown property owners and businesses with a simple mission…. promote downtown Naperville. I had the opportunity to go through the Naperville Citizen’s Academy last year with DNA’s Executive Director, Patti Roberts, and it is clear to see the DNA is in good hands. Patti is someone who isn’t afraid to roll up her sleeves and head out into the thick of downtown special events to make sure all of the planning, promotion and investment pays off in generating a high quality Naperville experience.
So let’s all join together and bid Harry a longlasting goodbye regardless of the what the final pages may hold and add yet another page to the portfolio of experiences that prove Naperville is a world-class community.