”When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.” — opening line of ‘Lord of the Rings.’
Seth Enz is far too tall to be a hobbit.
But that didn’t stop him and his friend, Emily Ott, from donning capes as they attended the Hobbit Day Celebration Saturday at Dubuque Carnegie-Stout Public Library.
“I like how Gandalf says they are not what they seem. They’re small, but they’re very large in importance,” said Enz, 18, of Platteville, Wis., who wore a curly wig atop his long, blond hair.
Ott, 21, of Dubuque, said her sister suggested in jest that the two of them attend the event, which was a birthday celebration for “Lord of the Rings” characters Bilbo and Frodo Baggins.
“I like how hobbits are loyal and have more perseverance than you’d think,” she said.
Sarah Smith, adult services librarian at Carnegie-Stout, and Libby Martin, in youth services, came up with the idea. Both are big fans of the J.R.R. Tolkien books.
“Many libraries and bookstores do it,” Smith said. “We just thought it was a neat activity. The timing is nice, too, as school has just started.”
But the timing wasn’t quite perfect, Martin said.
“Technically, their birthday was yesterday, on Sept. 22, but we decided to do it on a Saturday so more people could attend,” she said with a laugh.
Half an hour into the event, a diverse group of about 25 people of all ages helped themselves to cheese and crackers, cookies, veggies and some birthday cake. There was a table for coloring and another for creating hobbit socks. Attendees also could go on a quest for treasure.
The movie, “Fellowship of the Ring,” with the sound turned off, played on a big screen on one of the walls.
Racquel McClellan, of Dubuque, watched 5-year-old Ramone Bowen Jr. as he colored a hobbit character.
“He doesn’t know a lot about it,” she said. “But we’re here to learn. He loves coloring.”
The pair had already put in a busy morning. They attended a fall festival at Steve’s Ace Hardware and a fun run at Ramone’s school, Audubon, where he is a kindergartner.
“I beat some of the big kids,” he said. After the race, he ate an orange Popsicle.
Halia Christensen, 9, worked on a fuzzy hobbit sock. Her favorite characters are Gandalf and Frodo. She came along with her mom, Kimberly Christensen, and Lonnie Dayton.
“I haven’t read the book, but I’ve seen all the movies,” Halia said, not looking up from her craft project. “I like the action parts.”
The librarians created two tracks for the quest — one for adults called “The Wizard Track” and one for children dubbed “The Hobbit Track.” Participants went out in small groups and had to solve puzzles to move on.
“It’s kind of a cross between a scavenger hunt and an escape room,” Smith said.
The first clue was, “What is black and white, and read all over?” which, as most people knew, led to the periodical section downstairs. From there, the clues got harder.
Eventually, paths led to a room with a counter full of candy treats and paper crowns for the kids to top off the day.