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Mt. Greylock Communities Look To Capture Harry Potter Magic

Adams, Massachusetts and surrounding communities are looking to capitalize on Mt. Greylock’s recently discovered role in the fictional world of Harry Potter.In June, the latest work by best-selling author J.K. Rowling revealed that Mt. Greylock was the site of the Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Ray Gargan is on the board of directors of ProAdams, a group dedicated to promoting the Northern Berkshire County town.

“There are now probably millions of more people who have heard of Mt. Greylock and the town of Adams for the first time,” said Gargan.

With the help of Town Administrator Tony Mazzucco, the group recently held a public session to brainstorm ideas for how to capitalize on the connection to the blockbuster series that spans books, movies and theme parks.

“Ilvermorny is in Adams, Massachusetts,” Mazzucco said. “If you were to send them a letter it would be the top of the mountain in Adams, Massachusetts so we’re very proud of that.”

Working with people and businesses from the surrounding towns of North Adams, Williamstown and Lanesborough, Mazzucco says the hope is to benefit economically from a new crop of tourists who would come to the area because of the Harry Potter connection.  He says partnering with area schools and libraries on specialized programming has been brought up along with grassroots efforts.

“What can restaurants do with special menus?” Mazzucco said. “Do we do a wizard week? We’ve been working with DCR [Massachusetts Department of Conservation] and looking at if we can do some co-marketing or co-naming with DCR where we would create a map of the trail system at Mt. Greylock. It would be a wizard’s map. The trails would all be the same, but they would have a name or theme related to Harry Potter of wizardry in general. It would be a great way for fans of the series to experience the same trails that we walk on every day, but with a slightly different twist for them.”

Mazzucco says Adams will work with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, which oversees the mountain, to make sure the natural beauty and outdoor experiences are maintained.

“Our approach has been for anything that actually involves the mountain itself or the trails we’re not looking to add any physical infrastructure,” Mazzucco said. “If there’s a way to bring more people there so that there’s more hikers on a trail, we’d like to encourage that. But we don’t want to bring any infrastructure that’s going to change any of the trails or renaming anything permanently. If there’s an increase in user-ship that’s great and if there are ways we can facilitate more people coming on that’s great, but we’re not looking to physically change any of the layout of anything on the mountain.”

A large parking lot, Bascom Lodge and the 93-foot granite Massachusetts Veterans War Memorial Tower adorn the top of the mountain, which also features primitive camping areas and more than 70 miles of hiking trails. Gargan says quidditch, the broomstick riding game featured in the Harry Potter series, was also brought up as a potential economic driver. Real-life teams have popped up at colleges throughout the country while groups like the International Quidditch Association and U.S. Quidditch have formed. Eighty teams played in the 2015 U.S. Quidditch World Cup. Gargan thinks an event like it could work at the 1,000-acre Greylock Glen at the base of the mountain.

“Maybe Williams [College] would do it, MCLA [Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts] or BCC [Berkshire Community College could all start quidditch teams and we could have a tournament at Greylock Glen,” said Gargan.

Gargan says ProAdams hopes to partner with Pottermore.com, the digital publishing company of J.K. Rowling, to offer merchandise at the Mount Greylock Ramble on Columbus Day weekend. The yearly hike up the mountain also features a community celebration.

“Most people who’ve been to the summit drive up, but her [Rowling] character, Isolt Sayre, who founded the school, she didn’t drive up, she didn’t even fly up on a broom, she walked up,” Gargan said. “So I think that if you want to have the true magical experience of Mt. Greylock, that’s the best way to do it. To walk up.”

Mazzucco says more public input sessions are expected as the area considers how to cast a spell on the real world fame of a fictional tale.

Jim is WAMC’s Assistant News Director and hosts WAMC's flagship news programs: Midday Magazine, Northeast Report and Northeast Report Late Edition. Email: jlevulis@wamc.org
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