Harry Potter Fans Are Kickin' Az in San Francisco

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Harry Potter fans from over a dozen countries and forty states will converge in San Francisco, CA for almost a week of discussions, analysis, movie viewings, parties, Quidditch matches, Wizard Rock (Wrock) concerts, lectures, crafting, writing and art workshops, and more. Guests like Time Magazine book critic Lev Grossman, Potter art expert Leslie Combemale, 20Q creator Robin Burgener, Eddie Newquist of Harry Potter: The Exhibition and Chris Rankin (Percy Weasley) will meet almost a thousand fans of J.K. Rowling's best-selling series, and all will enjoy over 150 hours of Potter-centric programs, panels, discussions and meetings.

Diced, Sliced and Dangerous: Environment and Ethics in the World of Harry Potter Fans

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July 15 may be the release date for "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince", but a thousand Harry Potter fans are just as excited about Azkatraz, a Harry Potter fan conference set to take place in San Francisco, California, which begins just two days later.

Fans are coming from all over the world - Canada, Australia, Brazil, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, China - and at least forty states to enjoy over 150 hours of programming focused on J.K. Rowling's series of books, and Warner Brothers' films. Among the presenters are Lev Gossman, book critic for TIME Magazine, Eddie Newquist, President of Exhibitgroup-Giltspur of Harry Potter Exhibition fame, noted Potter-verse chroniclers Melissa Anelli of The Leaky Cauldron, Emerson Spartz of Mugglenet, Erin Pyne and John Granger, and even Chris Rankin, who plays Percy Weasley in the Harry Potter movies.

The event begins late on Thursday with a showing of "Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince"; on Friday, Azkatrazians will spend the day playing and watching Quidditch, Muggle-style, at the Beach Chalet fields at Golden Gate Park before embarking on a cruise for charities around Alcatraz to the accompaniment of four Wizard Rock (or "Wrock") bands. Saturday, Sunday and Monday will include over 100 hours of formal programming, analysis and discussion of the Harry Potter series' characters, concepts, teachable moments and themes.

In fact, event chair Lee Hillman points out that throughout the event, "presenters will be highlighting the choice between what is right and what is easy. Our attendees may even find themselves making hard choices when deciding which programming to attend, from the panels and presentations to the music, and even what charities we are supporting this year."

Those charities include Kids Need to Read, the Prisoners' Literature Project and the HP Alliance, who are dedicated to using the examples of Harry Potter and Albus Dumbledore to spread love and fight the Dark Arts in the real world.

Monday's presentations will take on a unique focus on business and legal issues stemming from the Potter series, with presentations by various current and former merchandise licensees, attorneys from the Thomas Jefferson School of Law and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and more, in the Master in Potter Administration track. This unique day-long program kicks off with a breakfast hosted by Susan Gunelius, author of Harry Potter: The Story of a Global Business Phenomenon. CLE credits will be available for attending attorneys.

Programming sessions include "Diced, Sliced and Dangerous: Environment and Ethics in the World of Harry Potter Fans", "Are You a Weasley or a Malfoy: Parenting Within the Harry Potter Fandom", "Draw Your Own Snape" and "Hamlet, Harry Potter & Healing (Using Bibliotherapy with Children and Teens)". Session summaries can be found on the Azkatraz website.

This event will be the sixth organized by HP Education Fanon, Inc., the nonprofit behind Nimbus - 2003, The Witching Hour (2005), Lumos (2006), Prophecy (2007) and Portus (2008); its next event will be Infinitus, set to take place at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Orlando's Islands of Adventure from July 15 - 18, 2010. The Azkatraz chairs will also be on the Harry Potter fandom panel at Comic-Con in San Diego on Sunday, July 26, 2009.

Azkatraz, like all prior HPEF events, is organized by a team of volunteers - this year, like in all years past, the organizational team members are primarily women, and almost all of the event organization, from registration to meetings of the event chairs, takes place online via Google, Yahoogroups, Skype, Twitter, LiveJournal, CVENT and more. At Azkatraz, the organizers and attendees will utilize Twitter to let attendees know about last minute room changes, sell-outs of ticketed events, meet-up times and more.

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HEIDI TANDY
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