Harry Potter Alliance hosts annual Yule Ball for charity


Quentin Shaw

Students Hui Yi Koh, Mark Guo, and Ming Lin man the giveaways table. The third annual Yule Ball took place at the I Hotel Conference on Friday, Jan. 19.

By Sarah O’Beirne, Staff writer

It was a night of witchcraft and wizardry as the Harry Potter Alliance held its annual Yule Ball.

The third annual event took place Friday night at the I Hotel and Conference Center. This year the Harry Potter Alliance sold more than 350 tickets.

The Yule Ball is inspired by “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” which is the fourth book in the Harry Potter series.

Three wizarding schools come together to celebrate the Christmas season and those competing in the Triwizard Tournament, a magical contest between Beauxbetons Academy of Magic, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and Durmstrang Institue, mentioned in the book.

The event not only pays tribute to the series, but it also  raises money for charity.

Harry Potter Alliance President Holly Miller, junior in LAS, along with the executive board, chose the Syrian Refugee Crisis as this year’s recipient.

They also chose Crisis Nursery, a charity from the Champaign-Urbana area focused on preventing child abuse and neglect.

“It’s something that members of the (executive board) felt very strongly about. The money will help children and then also help our local community,” Miller said.

Despite being held by a registered student organization, the event was open to the entire community, and tickets sold out weeks before the ball.

Miller said there was a lot of interest from the community, and many people who don’t attend the University bought tickets.

This included community member Jennifer King, who has attended the Yule Ball for the past two years.

“I absolutely love attending an event with people who have the same love for Harry Potter,” King said. “I can tell what house some people are in by their colors or their accessories, and it’s nice to have this kind of camaraderie with a group.”

In order to live up to fans’ expectations, Harry Potter Alliance Art Director Brandy Alley, senior in LAS, had to create the grand experience based off the same high standards set by the Hollywood films.

The Yule Ball followed a Harry Potter winter wonderland theme, and most of the decor was handmade by Alley and other club members.

The colors kept to the same silver and blue color scheme with lights and light-up Christmas trees adding to the ambiance.

Bercham Kamber


“The movie obviously went all out so it’s difficult to do that, but it’s similar to a prom,” Alley said. “People are crazy about it and always think that they could have done more, so I tried to put everything I got into this to meet people’s expectations.”

Alley said she hung up hundreds of snowflakes to the ceiling to help create the winter atmosphere. She also put together table centerpieces made of wooden books, which were painted silver and blue with the Harry Potter book titles.

“I used to own an Etsy store where I made Hedwig lamps and Harry Potter lamp shades with book pages,” Alley said. “I’ve made wood burnt signs for Harry Potter and some small themed sketches.”

Attendees were encouraged to dress formally, and many arrived in gowns. Along with dancing, the event had a photo booth, themed games and Harry Potter ornaments and wands for sale to raise additional money.

Prior to the event, free ballroom dance lessons were held by the Illini Dancesport Competitive Ballroom Team to go along with the waltz danced in the movie.

“Harry Potter is a huge part of my life. I have a Harry Potter tattoo and when I got married two summers ago we did an unbreakable vow with wands,” Alley said.

But no matter whether they were University students or community members of any age, all attendees had one large connection: their love of Harry Potter.

“I loved seeing how (the Harry Potter Alliance) combined their idea of Hogwarts with the books and brought it to life,” said Kayleigh Meinzen, senior in Engineering.

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