Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Harry Potter Mania - A First Hand Account!

TwoCents Reviewer, Breanna P, braved the crowds and headed off to experience the Midnight Mania for the release of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows. She shares her story with us below!

[Submitted by and Photos Courtesy of: Breanna P.]

NOTE: There are NO spoilers in this story!

The much-hyped release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has come and gone. Millions of readers now know the fate of the boy wizard after spending hours and hours sitting and reading the book in one sitting this past weekend. Others are waiting on finding out how the book ends because it is truly the end. There will be no more Harry Potter books to look forward to, no more guessing as to what will happen to Harry, Ron, and Hermione, no more theories about what may or may not happen to He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named or You-Know-Who. This is truly the end of the journey both for the characters in the series and the millions of readers across the world who adore J.K. Rowling’s stories about the Wizarding World in Great Britain. To mark this monumental occasion, bookstores and retailers all over held Harry Potter themed-events and parties before the midnight release on July 21, 2007. I was among the many who attended a fan event so that I could both obtain the book when it first came out and to see all of my fellow Harry Potter fans gathered together for one last book release.

I, along with my fellow HP fans, was at the biggest party for the release within a 50-mile radius in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The Downtown Borders at the Sanbusco Center was marking the occasion with a large Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows party and book release. My friend, Hannah who works there, warned me that even though I had reserved a copy of the book weeks before, I would still need to come hours before the party began to get a colored wristband marking my place in line. Arriving promptly at 4:30pm, I “checked in” and received a silver band, placing me in the second section of book purchasers in line (I learned that over 150 people had already come in and received the orange wristbands designating their place in the first and elite group of fans who would be able to say that they were the first to get their copies of this much desired book). Instead of waiting around for another 5 hours until the party officially began, my mother, sister, and I went out to dinner and went shopping at other establishments to kill time. By 7:30pm, we had returned to Borders and saw many other fans were doing the same. By 9:00pm, the store was packed full of fans of all ages. Children and adults alike dressed as their favorite characters while others preferred to look like common “Muggles”.

Packed with hundreds of people aimlessly wandering the store waiting for the clock to strike midnight, I decided to celebrate by participating in the Harry Potter Spelling Bee. Although I was way older than most of the participants (but not the oldest thank you very much), I managed to get 4th place (misspelling the killing curse Avada Kedavra by one letter). The pre-teen girl who won was very deserving (she knew how to spell phrases I hadn’t even remembered from the books). After that, I, along with my mom and friends sat and read other sources to pass the time (and to escape from the growing number of arrivals who were all jammed together at the main entrance of the store). My friends, Dan and Drew were there dressed as Ron Weasley and a member of the Inquisitorial Squad, respectively (Dan’s Dad came as Dumbledore and was quite the photo op for fellow fans). We all bought light-up wands there and were running around “zapping” each other for a time. Although they much resembled their literary counterparts, Dan and his father lost the Costume Contest to a young Severus Snape and several ladies from the French school of Wizardry, Beauxbatons.

After the contest, people looked at their watches and realized that it was 30 minutes to midnight. Employees wheeled out carts of the books under purple sheets towards the registers (which was sort of neat, but everyone was wondering why the sheets since we had all seen what the books looked like). The hundreds of compacted fans became even more “close knit” as they were soon forced into a disorganized line. While those wearing the revered “orange” wristbands were ushered into a clear line near the cash registers, the rest of the customers were left to stand together crushed and determine for themselves where they would need to be once the line became official. About ten minutes after midnight, with many of the orange banded already having left with their books in tow, us “silver” banded fans were forced to be crushed together against the “Local Interest” books section.

A store clerk (not Hannah who had left with the “Orangies” since she had reserved her book way in advance), told us to form a single file line to who knows where. That was loads of fun. After we somehow did that, word of mouth spread that we people should be facing this certain area and soon, the silver-banded were allowed to move in a line around shelved of books towards the registers. I had made it into the middle of the section and was well on my way. As I was slowly moving forward, I saw that Dan and his father (who had decided to remove his Dumbledore attire and be a Muggle again), near the back of the line even though they had been waiting with me most of the time (eager fans pushed us all apart). As I passed, I let them in front of me since we all would have to drive an hour home (we live in another town and they would have had to wait even longer if they had stayed where they were). Within five minutes, we were all at the registers and got our books within minutes (the clerks were so nice and really fast, which was a blessing). I then met up with my mom (who has smartly decided to get her book at the grocery store in the morning) and my sister in our car (since they had departed from the store before the chaos erupted to wait for me). I got in the car, too tired to even glance at the book, got home an hour later and went straight to bed.

Since then, I read the book in one sitting on Saturday (it took 12 hours to do so and gave me a really sore neck), but the book and the entire surrounding experience at Borders was well worth it. I will never forget the bond that everyone who is a Harry Potter fan has formed with the series and with each other at these book releases. And if you have yet to read a Harry Potter book, I recommend doing so since, well, you’re really missing out.

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