Potterheads challenged to magical escape

Photos by Traci Westcott/The Herald
Kaitlyn Meyer, 10, of Dubois, center, reads a clue with a family friend, Kate Schmitt of Dubois, right, and her parents, Debbie and Steve Meyer, during a Harry-Potter-themed escape room at the Dubois Branch Library on Thursday. Kaitlyn is an avid Harry Potter fan and was very excited to attend the escape room. 

By LEANN BURKE
lburke@dcherald.com

DUBOIS — A mandrake, translated runes and wands equipped with black lights were just a few of the clues Potterheads needed to solve the escape room based on J.K. Rowling’s book series “Harry Potter” at the Dubois Branch Library Thursday.

Programming librarians from the Dubois, Jasper and Ferdinand libraries teamed up to plan and execute the escape room that premiered at the Jasper branch before coming to the Dubois branch this week. The Ferdinand branch will offer the program on April 6.

So far, the program has been popular, filling up every time it’s offered.

“I actually filled mine up three times,” said Brenda Woodard, the adult programming librarian at Jasper. “People would tell me they couldn’t make it, so I’d open their spot back up, and it would fill up again.”

Participants in the escape room imagined themselves as students of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry who had been given detention by Professor Septima Vector, who teaches arithmancy.

“It is rumored that the last student given detention by Professor Vector was forgotten in her office while the Quidditch-loving professor enjoyed herself at a Quidditch game,” Library Assistant Katherine Frick read to participants before they were locked in. “The poor Slytherin boy was never seen again.”

Quidditch is a sport Rowling made up for her Wizarding World and Slytherin is one of four student dormitories at Rowling’s fictional school, Hogwarts.

Mitchell Schepers, 16, left, and his younger brother, Marshall, 10, search for the right key to unlock a clue during a Harry-Potter-themed escape room at the Dubois Branch Library on Thursday.

While all the participants Thursday morning made it out in the allotted 30 minutes, they agreed it was a challenge.

“Ahh, my weakness,” Chaz Kurtz of Dubois, 13, exclaimed as he tried to decipher one of the clues. “Cursive.”

The Schepers family — Mitchell, 16, Morgan, 15, Madelyn, 12, and Marshall, 10, all of Dubois — managed to find the final clue first, but then had to work backwards to figure out how to make sense of it. The hardest clue to find, they agreed, was the mandrake.

Kaitlyn Meyer of Dubois, 10, couldn’t wait to get into the escape room. A huge Harry Potter fan, she was disappointed when the Jasper event was only open to high-school-aged kids and adults. When Dubois opened their event to younger kids, she and her parents, Debbie and Steve, were among the first to sign up. Her favorite parts were the textbooks — with titles like “Spells” by T.O. Cast and “The Secret Uses of Muggle Doo-Dad,” muggle being the Harry Potter term for non-magic folk — and the potion vials.

As for the clues, Meyer said the final clue that was needed to escape was the hardest to find.

“We didn’t even think about it,” she said.

For those wishing to try their hand at a magical escape, registration for Ferdinand’s program is open on the library’s website, www.jdcpl.lib.in.us. The event is set for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 6.

Colton Voegerl of Dubois, center, works with Librarian Brenda Woodard to solve a Harry-Potter-themed escape room at the Dubois Branch Library on Thursday. "I grew up on Harry Potter," Voegerl said. "This was my first escape room. It was pretty cool."
Steve Meyer, left, reaches for a black light wand to reveal a secret message during a Harry-Potter-themed escape room at the Dubois Branch Library on Thursday. 



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