Alani Davis (left) and Cameron Woody both donned their best Hermione Granger costumes, then named all the potions and other secrets found on this table for Thursday evening’s Harry Potter Book Night at the Murphy Public Library downtown. Photo by BEN KATZ

SCOUTING AROUND: Library magically brings books to life

   Wizards of all ages appeared at the Murphy Public Library on Thursday night. Many showed their talents to transform – perhaps with polyjuice potion – into J.K. Rowling’s beloved characters in the Harry Potter book series.
   The library was hosting its second Harry Potter Book Night, with the meeting room decorated to look like memorable places from the series, from the platform entrance at King’s Cross to the Gryffindor common room. The event was inspired by the United Kingdom publisher’s annual Harry Potter Book Night.
   Bridget Wilson, the local youth services librarian, spent five hours decorating the room and countless more researching and preparing materials. Some items, like the several owls at the Owl Post Service and Eeylops Owl Emporium, were from Wilson’s personal collection, while the life-
size Dobby house elf statue was on loan from Murphy Elementary School.
   “I’m a serious Harry Potter fan – midnight book releases, staying up all night to read the newest book, seeing all the movies in theaters, re-reading the books – and I know there’s a huge fan base even 20 years after it all started,” Wilson said. “And it’s fun to share my love of Harry Potter with other fans.”
   As soon as fans entered the room, they were asked which house they were in – and if they didn’t know, the sorting hat was available to help. They then could wander around the room and wonder at the array of potions, look at wands from Ollivander’s, beware the whomping willow or try some sweets provided by Honeyduke’s washed down with butterbeer from the Three Broomsticks.
   Once settled at their house table, they could work on their transfiguration projects, whether it was turning paper bags into owl puppets or simply coloring bookmarks. The Gryffindor table was popular, as a few girls chose to be Hermione Granger for the night.
   “I’ve dressed up as Hermione for the past three Halloweens,” said Cameron Woody, 11, who wore a Gryffindor robe and buddied around the library with Alani Davis, who mastered the heroine’s well-known bushy hair and wore a Gryffindor uniform.
   “I love the way she can get really mad, but be sweet at the same time. Plus, she’s really smart.”
   The evening included a costume contest, but everyone who dressed up earned prizes of movie-size snacks or coloring books for their costumes. Wilson’s favorites were Jaden Crocker as Luna Lovegood, Hailey Mathis as Hermione, Davis as Hermione, Ben Katz as Rita Skeeter and Weston Woody as Harry Potter.
   “Everybody was great,” Wilson said.
   There also was a trivia competition, which cunning Slytherin won, and a game of bingo with several winners. The favorite activity for many was the scavenger hunt around the children’s section of the library, reminiscent of Harry’s search for Horcruxes in the Deathly Hallows.
   “It was fun to look for the stuff,” said Crocker, 10.
   Wilson, who already was working on plans for next year Friday morning, hopes to make Harry Potter Book Night an annual event at the library. The previous one was in 2016.
   “I love that they do this,” said Woody, who has read all the books and watched all the movies. “I love that they put on all this stuff.”

MAC features Valentine event
   Valentine’s Day is a week away, and the Valley River Arts Guild is helping everyone create something for their loved ones this weekend.
   The guild is hosting “Love in the Air” day at the Murphy Art Center from 11:30 a.m to 3:30 p.m. Saturday. Both adults and children can create personalized cards while enjoying light refreshments.
   The event is part of the arts guild’s new series of art classes for kids, The MACkey Mouse Art Club. Through the club, the guild is working to share their knowledge and expertise with the next generation at no cost.
   The guild raises funds for the classes through its Hearts for the Arts campaign. The MAC is at 33 Valley River Ave. in downtown Murphy.

Murphy makes list for retirees
   Murphy is a top town to retire in, according to a list published by last week. The list featured 30 small towns from’s list of 100 most popular places to retire.
   Murphy was described as “a great place for retirement, particularly if you are interested in a quiet and rural environment.” The climate and scenery were mentioned to promote the town.
   The list also included nearby Hayesville, Maryville (Tenn.), Crossville (Tenn.), Asheville, Brevard and Mount Airy. The list included nine towns in North Carolina, which according to another list on is the third most popular state retirees moved to in 2017.
   Samantha Sinclair is the Scouting Around columnist for the Cherokee Scout. You can reach her by email,; fax, 837-5832; or by leaving a message in the office at 837-5122.