Harry Potter hysteria hits Juneau

Children and adults alike eagerly await release of final book

Posted: Friday, July 20, 2007

Hundreds of Harry Potter fans are expected to descend upon the Nugget Mall this evening to celebrate and mourn the release of the seventh and final book chronicling the bespectacled boy wizard.

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A party celebrating "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" will begin at 11 p.m. at the Hearthside Books Mendenhall Valley branch, prior to the 12:01 a.m. Saturday official release of the much-anticipated book.

"Last time, two years ago, we had 650 people show up," Hearthside Books manager Katrina Pearson said. "We expect more people this year, and we have actually expanded the venue from our store into the hallways and into a couple of available spaces as well."

Details of the story line are shrouded in secrecy, and fans are eagerly awaiting resolution of the trials and tribulations of Harry and his Hogwarts gang.

"I can't wait until it comes out," 9-year-old Elias Antaya said. "The Harry Potter book series is my favorite book series."

Diane Antaya said she and her husband began reading the series to their son several years ago and have since read all six books together as a family.

Potter mania

Two parties to fly to

What: "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" book release party.

When: 11 p.m. tonight.

Where: Hearthside Books in the Nugget Mall.

What: Harry Potter birthday party.

When: 6 p.m. July 27.

Where: Mendenhall Valley library.

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"I'm excited to have the closure and so many questions answered, but I am equally sad that it's going to be over," she said. "It's been a great thing for my family to share."

The family will celebrate the release of the book this evening by hosting a Harry Potter party at their home for friends and fellow fans. The party will include costumes, games and trivia. The Antayas then plan to attend the release party at the Nugget Mall and anticipate completing the first chapter of the new book together sometime around 1 a.m. Saturday.

"I'm excited to see how it's going to turn out, and I have lots of predictions," Elias Antaya said, including some regarding the two main characters widely rumored to meet their demise in "Deathly Hallows." "I think that those two main characters will be Harry Potter and Voldemort."

Pearson believes part of hysteria surrounding the series has to do with the close relationship the readers have developed with the characters over the years.

"It just hooked a lot of readers, and as those readers have grown up the characters have grown up with them," she said. "I think they can relate because they kind of all grow up together."

It is pretty rare for a book to create this amount of hype, Pearson said.

"This is pretty unique," she said, adding that tonight's event could be Hearthside's biggest to date. "There are maybe several books a year where there are strict release dates, but a book that has this much attention on it is quite unique."

The staff has taken weeks to get ready for tonight's party, which will include various activities, magic tricks, fortunetelling, door prizes, refreshments and more, Pearson said.

And then there will be the sale of the books, which retail for $34.99. Prepaid orders and purchases at the release party, however, will include a 30 percent discount, Pearson said.

The number of books being released is also shrouded in secrecy, but Pearson said they will have plenty on hand tonight for those intending to purchase a copy.

For the fans and fanatics who are unable to attend tonight's release party, a Harry Potter birthday party will be held at 6 p.m. Friday, July 27, at the Mendenhall Valley library branch.

Marcia Phillips, in charge of acquisitions for the public library system, said she has ordered seven copies of the new book as well as three unabridged audio copies, which she hopes to have by Saturday. Getting one's hands on them may be difficult, she said, because people have already been signing up on a waiting list to check them out.

"There would be a wait, but we would hope that it wouldn't be too long," Phillips said.

Although the story of Harry Potter concludes with the newest release, the magic will endure, Diane Antaya said. It sparks a lot of creative play and helps instill Harry Potter's good qualities in children, she said.

"It brings a lot of people together," she said.

• Contact Eric Morrison at 523-2269 or eric.morrison@juneauempire.com.



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