The creativity and love used to faithfully re-create beloved Potter characters made judging the more than 100 entries very hard.
l Montgomery County’s Emily Rose Pizza, Zoe Bell and Emily’s dog Bella teamed up to be Fluffy, the three-headed dog.
l Jilliann Downey, 9, of Accokeek went to a nature center and got a real owl to perch on her arm to give her Hermione costume just the right touch of realism.
l Jamie Frame, 11, of Fairfax pointed out that because he was born in England “I have a strong English accent, just like Harry Potter.”
l William Visconti, 9, of Fairfax told us that his Harry Potter costume “is special to me because my grandpa helped me make the wand.”
In the end, of the three characters who wound up as our grand prize winners, there wasn’t a Harry, Ron or Hemione in the lot. Instead supporting characters — who certainly are no less memorable — wound up being the most magical: a perfectly prim and putrid Dolores Umbridge; a pint-size Professor Flitwick demonstrating a perfectly performed wingardium leviosa and a suitably spectacled and confused Professor Trelawney.
Maria Collins, 11, of Glenwood was just back from seeing the Harry Potter exhibit in New York where she saw a special section on Umbridge when she heard about the contest. “I chose her because I thought not a lot of people would do her,” Maria told us. The contest was a family affair: Her mom supplied the pink jacket, her sister helped with her hair and her dad took the photograph. She got posters from a Harry Potter book, a pink table cloth and ceramic cats to create “Umbridge’s office . . . which was really just my dining room.”
Like Maria, Alexander Suh chose to be something different because “when I first read about the contest . . . I thought everybody would do Harry Potter. . . . So I went through the books and thought of characters I like. [Professor Filius Flitwick’s] a pretty funny character, and that’s why I chose him.” Alexander, 14, from Chevy Chase, said the hardest part of the costume was creating the hair for the mustache and eyebrows. “I combed out cotton balls and painted them,” he said. And has he really mastered the art of levitating a feather? No, that was just his dad, holding it out of the camera’s sight !
The process of creating the perfectly befuddled divination professor Sybill Trelawney was the work of sisters Sara Shahzad, 7, and Neena Shahzad, 14. The Reston sisters did research on the Internet before deciding on which character to choose. Sara wore the costume because, as Neena told us, “I don’t really like getting my picture taken, and Sara was willing.” Neena was a big help in creating the confused look that wowed the judges. “Neena told me to do big eyes,” Sara told us. The costume came together over several days, and the hardest part was getting the right level of confusion on Sara’s face. “We took a lot of pictures to get that expression,” Neena said.
— Tracy Grant