As you read in our last post, we were fortunate enough to win the contest through All About Group Travel for a weekend at the fifth annual Quidditch World Cup. On Friday, November 11, myself, Angela, Martha, and our team mom (mine, d’aww) woke up before the crack of dawn and drove out to New York City. Fifteen hours later we pulled up in front of the Clarion Hotel at LaGuardia Airport and met Natae, Marie Sperling’s daughter. She gave me an AAGT t-shirt, a coach pass (in the form of a wristband), and a hardy welcome, and after a crazy fight to find parking that the hotel falsely advertised as available, we arrived in our free room. Unfortunately we stumbled in and found a cockroach and a suspicious bed-bug carcass, but after a moment speaking with the management, my mom negotiated an upgrade in our room, and we ended up with a decent one in the hallway with other IQA teams. The next morning we went to our 6:30am breakfast group and munched on bagels and toaster waffles while we waited for our 7:15 coach. The other teams present looked quite formidable with their sharp yet humorous jerseys, capes, and brooms. During breakfast we met the other contest winner, Sadhbh Corkery, and her father, who had flown in from Ireland the day before. They were incredibly nice, but Sadhbh’s dad was quite the muggle and uninterested in attending the Cup, so Sadhbh officially joined our group.
After a short coach ride to the fields on Randall’s Island, Sadhbh and I were escorted to the front team entrance, given All-Access wristbands, and introduced to IQA Commissioner Alex Benepe. We reconvened with the rest of our group and went exploring the fields, discovering tents for Mugglenet, Harry Potter Alliance, Allivan’s, and soooo much more. Then, while we were waiting for the Opening Ceremony to begin, we watched a man unload the Ford Anglia used by Warner Brothers in their Harry Potter exhibits. He even allowed us to get inside for pictures!
Our first match observation was between the Harvard Horntails and LSU, and LSU kicked butt. Still, it was pretty amazing to see the Harvard kids in action. Note: they’re intimidating even with brooms between their legs. We’re convinced that the LSU teams dominated because they had better nicknames, though. Who can go up against a ninja and win?
We continued to watch matches until 2:30ish, when our hunger made us confused zombies. IQA ended up with 10,000 people at the event, way more than last year, and they were just as surprised about it as the rest of the world. They only prepared two food vendors, a waffle truck and a comprehensive food tent that began selling burgers and hot dogs around 11. We did not wait in line as they crossed the field and circled multiple pitches – facebook posts say that most people waited in line for close to two hours only to discover the vendors were out of food. Instead of waiting in line, we went to ask ticket-takers about where else we could find food and whether or not Martha, Angela, and my mom would be allowed reentry, since they did not get wristbands and Randall’s Island Security strictly stated reentry would not happen. The nice girls at the team entrance told us to ignore them and took us to the Tennis Center across the street whose café only had a 30 minute wait. Unfortunately everyone else had the same idea at the same time, so our 30 minutes became a confused hour in which Sadhbh’s food disapperated into a black hole. There were clean, warm bathrooms though!
We returned to the fields and bought a few souvenirs, then grabbed places in front of the concert stage for STARKID. Joe Moses and Brittany Coleman came as Snape and Bellatrix to perform a “talkshow” called Potions Corner. They sang, interviewed Alex ‘Benepeepee’ and drew a huge crowd away from the pitches. After they finished, the four of us took photos of the New York skyline at dusk, and then found ourselves next to a line waiting for Joe and Brittany to exit their tent, which we joined OF COURSE.
After what seemed like an eternity, we spoke with them and got autographs and a picture.
After this is got dark and cold QUICK. We were still starving, and we were recuperating from our fourteen hour drive the day before, so we called a cab from the Tennis Center to take us back to our hotel, as the coach wouldn’t come until 10pm and construction kept any buses from LaGuardia from stopping on the Island. The cab ended up being a limo service in order to sit us all, and I was absolutely terrified, mostly because it looked exactly like Mr. Chow’s SUV in The Hangover. We weren’t kidnapped, though, just robbed of $70 to drive a total of six miles. Ahh, New York.
The next morning we got up super early again and headed out on the bus, then the subway, to Manhattan. Sadhbh’s dad came with us as his muggleness didn’t get in the way of sightseeing. The subway let us out in Times Square, which was dumbfounding. The buildings were all so ridiculously tall that we felt like ants, and there were flashing lights everywhere competing for our attention. The most successful was a billboard attached to a camera pointed at us – being on tv definitely caught our eye. Though everything was huge, the square itself and the New Years ball were much smaller than I’d expected – I can’t imagine packing all those people we see on December 31st into that tiny space to watch that tiny little shiny ball! We acted like total tourists taking pictures of everything we saw as we walked down the street towards Central Park. Sadhbh had her first ever pretzel from a street vendor, and though it tasted like cardboard, there is nothing more impressive than eating a pretzel from a cart in the middle of Times Square.
We must have wandered around Central Park for forever. There were horse-drawn carriages and bicycle cars everywhere, and we stumbled into the children’s park first thing. As we wandered along we passed by a carousel, statues, and so many musicians and performers. Our last stop was the quintessential fountain that’s in so many movies about the Big Apple, and under the overpass was a family of choral singers adding a beautiful auditory note to the scene!
As we made our way back to the subway station, we stopped for a lunch of real New York pizza (which is sooo much better than Chicago style if you ask me… Martha feels differently, lol). Our trip back took a bit longer than expected as construction totally threw off the 7 line, but when we finally got back, we took our own car over to the fields so as to avoid the cab costs (and discovered that we could have saved over $100 if we’d stayed off the coach in the first place, had AAGT not lied to us about it being cheaper than parking on the island).
Afterwards we watched more final games, bought our last souvenirs, and gaped at Joe Moses and Brittany Coleman standing with Alex Benepe. Sadhbh’s friends had texted her declaring their jealousy in the form of hatred for our meeting with the former two the night before, so she caught up with them and asked them to say hello to all of her friends in a video.
The saddest point of the weekend was when we had to leave, as it was before the Championship games. We lacked three passes to them as our weekend passes did not include the finals, and we had a strict timeline for traveling back to Indiana. Sadhbh was able to attend them, though, and recorded video from some of the finals matches.
So as horrible as our hotel and transportation issues were, the Cup itself heavily outweighed them in totally awesome-ness. We learned some amazing strategies (not to be posted online, muahaha) and incredible insights into what our team could do to fly in full speed instead of blumbering in like squibs. We can’t wait to hold our Call-Out Meeting, which is aimed for November 29 but may need to wait, as Autumn needs for us to have our risk assessed first (which requires a few more hoops). I say we have a Call-Out on November 29 even if we have to hold it outside on Kirkwood, and we’ll wait to have a huge one with a documentary screening until our risk is assessed later in the semester, but I’d like to have input on the subject before we decide for sure.
One thing is for sure, though: we’re pursuing Club Sports status. After speaking with teams this weekend and reading through the guidebook, CSF status is our key to success. News on this to come after our risk level is determined.