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Hogwarts event draws crowd

By Sarah Brown
Lebanon Local

It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, but sometimes living involves a little fun on a Hogwarts kind of night, and that’s just what the owners of Lebanon Mercantile and Le Cirque delivered on Oct. 6.
In their second annual Harry Potter-themed adventure night, sisters RaChelle Templeton and Shyla Stewart invited witches, wizards and the general population to their party to flit about downtown and enjoy festivities hosted by multiple businesses from J&C Bigfoot Grille all the way south to Hangy Solutions.
“When each business makes it a party in their own spot, it really makes a huge difference,” Stewart said.

Creatures from Ramsdell Reptile Rescue draw interest during the Harry Potter – themed downtown adventure.

Several hundred bodies walked the corridor that night. Groups stopped to look at reptile rescues on the sidewalks, people in costumes took pictures at photo prop stops, a man created balloon animals for an endless crowd, and children made apothecary “potions” with glitter and Pixy Stix.
“The event was crazy busy,” Stewart said. “I don’t think any of us stopped from morning ’til night for weeks (prior), but the joy that people give out is pretty incredible.”
Le Cirque’s own party included a photo booth entrance where children and child-at-heart adults donned wizard capes and wands to cast a magic spell toward the camera. In their back room, Templeton and Stewart hosted a costume contest. Allan Quick, who visited from Eugene, won for his Professor Severus Snape costume, while Nichole Moss took home the prize for her Gryffindor student look.
Moss, who’s new to Lebanon, said she missed last year’s event, but made sure not to miss it again.

Nichole Moss accepts a prize for her Gryffindor costume.

“I think it’s great,” she said about the event. “It’s cute. I like the music, the kids look great. I like that you guys have other small town stuff, too.”
Templeton and Stewart opened Lebanon Mercantile in 2021, starting with an initial Valentine’s Day pop-up flower shop. A floral boutique was their original idea, but the girls found the shop evolved into what it wanted to be. While they still offer custom floral arrangements, the boutique features clothing, home decor, local vendor products and, of course, Harry Potter goods.
Le Cirque opened in May of this year. “It just kind of happened,” they said, but when it did, they immediately knew the full extent of their dream could be realized. The cafe offers hot comfort food and baked treats made by Templeton, set in what Stewart describes as a sort of circus-themed steampunk/Victorian atmosphere.
“I call it a quirky place,” she said, but Templeton added that many people think of it as a speakeasy.
“Once you get past the front entrance, they realize not only what’s in there, but then it goes back into the game room where it has sort of its own feel,” Templeton said.

Guests browse Le Cirque and order food during the “Back to Hogwarts” event Oct. 6.

With its homemade food and back room space, Le Cirque will offer an event room for the community, as well as a place to host their own parties. On Oct. 28, following the downtown trick-or-treat, the pair will host a “Night Circus Costume Party” for adults.
“It’s a holiday every day at Le Cirque and the Mercantile,” Stewart said. “When you walk in, it kind of feels like Halloween or like a holiday. We very much are focused on the full experience.”
The girls agree Stewart is the one who dreams up the “full experience” with her “whimsical and crazy” decor, but sometimes they need to scale her back a little.
“(It’s about) letting your creativity flow past a point where you think it’s reasonable sometimes, and then bringing it back into where safety and reality meet the dream,” Templeton said.
And it’s Templeton who brings flavor to the table.
“Chelle shows love through her food,” Stewart said. “Most of her food is home-crafted food from generations-old recipes.”

RaChelle Templeton and Shyla Stewart. Provided photo

Describing themselves as fourth-generation Lebanonites, it appears the two boutiques are a nod to their family heritage. Saying their work is a tribute to their mother, they reach back into their past to retrieve recipes, decor and inspiration while pressing toward the future by inviting their children to participate.
“We have an incredible family team behind us,” Templeton said.
Their husbands and children, along with a family friend, help support the management of the stores.
“It’s really the ‘Mercantile Seven’ at this point,” she said. “Seven of us are running all of it while building and creating.”
In their lifetime, they said, this is the first time they’ve seen the downtown area “be alive” and have so many things to offer with food and music.
“It’s an exciting time to be downtown and help build downtown,” Stewart said. “We really are impressed with so many businesses here.”