Thanks for a successful Countdown to Midnight

Opinion

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We would like to take a moment to thank the individuals and organizations that made the Countdown to Midnight Festival a success. We are extremely thankful to the community for letting us host what turned out to be a wonderful event. From the start of our planning we were fortunate to secure the services of a life-long DOOP'ER, Deirdra Stockmann. Deirdra fell in love with this event from the beginning, and worked countless hours in crafting and shaping it. Her commitment and dedication made it the successful event it was.

Many Oak Park residents volunteered their time and effort for Countdown to Midnight, some working nearly 24 hours on the day of the event. While we cannot individually name the nearly 100 volunteers here, we would like to extend our sincere appreciation to them for their dedication of time and effort to ensure the event ran smoothly and for their creativity, which made it truly magical!

Several individuals made commitments above and beyond and we would like to recognize them. Tom Wetzel for his voluntary assistance in media relations, securing the 2-hour live morning WLS Channel 7 spot along with many spots, interviews and stories featuring many activities and showcasing the village and its assets.

Bronwyn Wright for her dedicated coordination of the Quidditch Tournament. Without her to lasso and prepare volunteers and to organize the dozens of youth athletes, the sporting event would not have become one of the highlights of the day.

We must also tip our hats to Craig Barnes who stepped forward to coordinate the event and referee nearly every game. The Gordon family contributed countless hours before and during the event. Lynn Zurowski created the eye-catching design, which became the face of the Countdown adorning t-shirts and posters. The whole Zurowski family got into the game portraying the Weasleys outside of the Magic Tree where Jan Shoup and Cynthia Douglas also donned robes and entertained the crowds in the evening hours. Debra Mitchell, whose many words of wisdom gleaned from a myriad of Harry Potter events over the past few years got our planning off on the right foot, provided needed support and advice along the way. Debbie also contributed her adaptation of the Prisoner of Azkaban for staged reading, which was so expertly performed by players from Circle Theatre, led by Kevin Bellie and Greg Kolak.

Elizabeth Smith and Shira Belenke of Wonder Works Children's Museum touched up the holes and ran the "Muggle Golf" games on the Marion Street Mall. Lori Pullium, Director of Children's Services at the Oak Park Public Library, thoughtfully planned a number of activities for younger children and gracefully integrated the festival into the Summer Reading Program.

The use of the parks and historical properties of the Oak Park Park District allowed the Countdown to Midnight to become a true community event. The classes at Cheney Mansion were made possible by director, Linda Peterson, Kids Cook chef Ron Martin and local scientist, gardener and educator, Ursula Bedrossian. Pleasant Home Foundation Director Laura Thompson granted use of the beautiful space for the Divination Tea which was expertly coordinated by Program Director Georgia Kmetz and volunteer Barbara Zimmerman. The signage was handled by It's a Sign and the Marauder Map by The Print Shop.

Special thanks to Boex Design for the creation of the map.

We would like to thank our sponsors: Baird & Warner; Book Table; Classic Cinemas/Tivoli Entertainment; Claudia Marciniak; Downtown Oak Park; Fifth Third Bank; First Bank of Oak Park; Freedom Entertainment; Friends of the Library; Jerry Nowatzke; LaSalle Bank; Scoville Square/Park Realty; Caroline Stankovich; The Avenue; The Carleton Hotel; The Magic Tree Bookstore; Whole Foods Market; Wizarding World Press; Oak Park Park District; Village of Oak Park, especially Loretta Daly; the Oak Park Police Department, especially Sgt. Mike Vitale; and the Illinois Bureau of Tourism.

It was a grand day and we look forward to doing it again.Rose Joseph and Iris YippCo-owners, Magic Tree Bookstore

Rich Carollo

President and CEO, Oak Park Area CVB

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