Harry Potter Mania

One of the big goals for my time in Portland was to visit the oft extolled Powell's Book. For some, this isn't just a must see when you visit Portland, but reason enough to make the trip in the first place. I chose to combine my required literary pilgrimage with the circus I knew would be taking place around the release of the new Harry Potter book.

Even in my wildest dreams I couldn't have imagined the spectacle that awaited me. The party was slated to start at 10pm with the books going on sale at 12:01am. I arrived at about 9:15 with the thought of grabbing a bite to eat and maybe finding myself a good used paperback before I gawked. From a block away, I could hear the festivities and see the commotion. The street was blocked off with t.v. vans with satellite dishes raised to the sky. There was a smoke machine and face painting tables. Then there was the line: hundreds of cape-clade, striped scarf wearing fans with their lawn chairs and coolers zigzagging and doubling back Disney-style to fully occupy the closed off street. Although I didn't ask, I'm sure many of them had been there all day.

While I don't consider myself a fan*, I've read a few of the books and know of the characters, many of whom I saw running around with wands, etc. Besides the slew of Harrys and Hermoines dressed in Hogwarts' attire, I saw a Dumbledore, a Prof. Sybill Trelawney*, and, my favorite, Hagrid, true to form towering 2 feet above everyone else. Among the non-Potter related, there were all manner of stilt walkers, a fire juggler, and some Scottish/Irish song and dance troupe that clacked sticks as they do-si-doed.

As I waited for transportation home (unfortunately the bus came before the magical train), the book-purchasing line overflowed its bounds of the block off street and wound halfway around the block, this at only 10:30. I can't only imagine how long the line got by midnight. The poor kids who had gone home to nap before the big event were relegated far from the excitement not to mention prolly not getting their copy until well after midnight. I guess that goes to show what it takes to be a true fan in this day and age.
Saturday July 21 2007File under: travel, events

Toggle Comments (13)comment?
on Sat 21st Jul, 2007 02:26 pm PDT MOM said:
Now you know what we poor librarians go through every day without the profit motive! Go books!
on Sat 21st Jul, 2007 09:45 pm PDT Wilbur said:
omg....that Hagrid was cool tho. tim was in line somewhere in seattle...i'll wait for the movie ;-)...j/k i'll read it sometime. good stories i think.
on Sat 21st Jul, 2007 10:01 pm PDT K said:
That looks way cooler than the line I waited in... Too bad I can't start reading it till after the bar :(
on Sun 22nd Jul, 2007 03:09 am PDT Saxtor said:
Sounds like a blast. What a strange cultural phenomenon the waiting in line to purchase the latest consumer artifact/experience has become. Lets say you were a hardcore fan about all the latest Hollywood blockbusters, Apple gadgets and children's novels and opted to wait in line for each one of these. I bet in the Summer of 2007, you'd be looking at over ten nights spent on the street, in line waiting until midnight, tomorrow or a day or two from now. I just find it all rather bizarre*. That said, if there is a place that needs no excuse to throw a super-fun party, it is most certainly PDX.
on Sun 22nd Jul, 2007 10:34 am PDT Saxtor said:
I should note, this does not necessarily originate from a tide-shift in consumer habits (although I think that's what we're seeing here in part). This article about a dust-up over a Starbucks store "releasing" a new flavor syrup (???) ahead of its "release date" suggests that there are strong economic forces involved, too.
on Sun 22nd Jul, 2007 01:27 pm PDT Emilly said:
It would have been awesome to be in a city like Portland for the release of the book. There is something about a shared experience like this that gets exponentially larger and more exciting as the number of participants grow. While our release at the library was quite a bit smaller (about 100 people) it was still a big event for us Potter fans. For more about our midnight release event check out my blog post And although it seems some of y'all out there are put off by the commercial aspect of the event just remember this phenomenon that is Harry Potter has gotten millions of kids to Put Down the Video Games! and actually read a book. I'll take that trade.
on Sun 22nd Jul, 2007 02:50 pm PDT Sara said:
I didn't stay out until midnight (I got the book yesterday), but I went downtown on Friday night to "The Party that Shall Not be Named" and watched all of the people. I got a t-shirt, mostly because of the 7/20 date. They expected about 70,000 people to show up...two streets were blocked off, they had costume contests, people dressed up as characters posing in portraits, the stores had Hogwarts banners, sample things from Harry Potter, etc. I was amazed. - Oh yeah, I still want to go to Portland someday.
on Sun 22nd Jul, 2007 08:00 pm PDT Jule said:
Katy got the book Sat. morning and I haven't gotten a normal conversation out of her since. Thank goodness she is almost done! then we can have some quality time together in front of the XBox! oh, wait, I mean, then I GET to read it!
on Mon 23rd Jul, 2007 01:04 pm PDT mandy said:
our love of books rivals our love of festivals! wouldn't it be awesome to be the author of such a loved series? btw, her site & blog, www.jkrowling.com, is quite entertaining
on Mon 23rd Jul, 2007 09:33 pm PDT MOM said:
Hey Jule, Is this the same "K" that said "Too bad I can't start reading it till after the bar :(?" Ahhh, the lure of a good book...
on Mon 23rd Jul, 2007 11:28 pm PDT Wilbur said:
Is "K" still at the bar?
on Wed 25th Jul, 2007 07:07 pm PDT Emily said:
Hey Jule....this Katy you speak of sounds awesome! I didn't talk to anyone -or leave the house really- until I had my book finished- Monday/Tues at 2:35AM. I'll miss those guys.....sigh
on Sun 05th Aug, 2007 05:54 am PDT Sean said:
I got it in the mail last week and just finished today. I TOTALLY blew off my Marines and responsibilities as a platoon commander so I could focus on Harry.I was the only one dressed up when I went to the PX to buy my copy. A Navy Seal punched me in the stomach.

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