By Ms. Jessica Marie Ryan (IMCOM Europe)February 8, 2018
CHIÈVRES, Belgium -- Community members came to the SHAPE Cinema -- Alliance Auditorium Tuesday night for a screening of the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone on SHAPE, Belgium. The screening is a part of the Army Community Service's "Eight Nights of Harry Potter," a special outreach event where each movie of the Harry Potter series will be shown to families in the U.S. Army Garrison Benelux and NATO communities.
The event was more than an opportunity for Harry Potter fans to watch the film on the big screen. It was about bringing the geographically-dispersed and international community together while educating them about resources provided by Army Community Service, Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, SHAPE's Morale Welfare Branch and other community organizations at SHAPE and the Army garrison.
"We do our best work by promoting a healthy environment for families," said Bill Gault, victim advocate at the ACS's Victim Advocacy Program and one of the lead organizers for the event. "We hope to get a diverse population to attend these events. In addition to watching a great family film, they will be able to meet with organization representatives and put a name to a face."
Fans can also enjoy Harry Potter themed activities at the cinema.
During the first night's event, Dan O'Riley, library technician, set up an arts and crafts table and helped participants with coloring Hogwarts' house crests and making sorting hats. He also played music from the movie, such as "Hedwig's theme," on the electric piano.
There are special giveaways at each screening, according to Gault. Fans can listen to Armed Forces Network Benelux's radio shows in the morning and afternoon for a chance to answer trivia questions and enter a drawing. Prior to each screening, one contestant from that week's drawing will win a copy of the book corresponding to the movie.
Fans are also encouraged to dress up in costumes, Gault added. Before the screening, fans can participate in a costume contest. One lucky winner from each screening will be in a drawing to win a special prize, which will be given at the final screening on April 10.
Among the crowd during the first event was Army Lt. Col. Amy Jackson, deputy commander for administration for the SHAPE Army Healthcare Clinic, and her daughter Kaitlyn, who is in fifth grade. A huge fan of the series, Kaitlyn began reading the books in second grade and just finished the series this school year.
It was a special night for the mother and daughter duo, since it was their first time seeing the "The Sorcerer's Stone" in a movie theater together.
"Because Kaitlyn is only 10 years old, the only movie we've seen in a theater is 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,'" said Jackson. "We want to be a part of this community event."
Another parent Cat Harrington came to the screening with her five-year-old son.
"We really like Harry Potter, and we haven't seen it [together] on the big screen," said Harrington. "I like the series' message that children are being accepted for being different and can find comradery within their differences."
The remaining screenings are scheduled Tuesdays at 6 p.m. at the SHAPE Cinema from Feb. 13 to Mar. 6 and Mar. 27 to April 10. Admission is €2 per person. For more information, call ACS at DSN 366-6824 or +32(0)6532-6824.
For a chance to enter AFN Benelux's trivia contests, listeners can tune into 107.9 FM (Chièvres), 106.5 FM (SHAPE), 101.7 FM (Brussels), 99.7 FM and 96.9 FM (Tri-Border Area) or AFN360 Internet Radio at www.afneurope.net/Stations/Benelux from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.