They came, some of them, more than six hours early. The line stretched to Bittersweet. And the people were still coming.
By dusk Division Street was full. Some played human chess in front of Present Perfect. Others watched an instructional video featuring Mary GrandPré at ArtOrg. Others belted out their favorite Potter passages at The Contented Cow.
The crowds gathered round to listen to Professor Snape read. Hundreds dressed in costumes and more than a hundred participated in River City Books’ costume contest. Every Harry Potter-esque character you think of — and a few you cannot — was on hand.
Muggle Dogs were eaten. Butterbeer was consumed. By the barrel.
As “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” was shown on the giant movie screen erected in the middle of Division Street, people sat on chairs, on the curb, and in couches. That’s right; I saw more than one sofa along Northfield’s main street.
The weather was nothing short of perfect.
I am simply amazed — and heartened— by the pleasure I found during Friday night’s celebration of the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Most likely for the last time in all of our lifetimes people lined the streets, in the middle of the night, all across the country, all across the world, to buy a book. They waited for printed pages bound by hardcovers. There is no LCD screen. Nothing makes noises. There are no bells, whistles or exploding devices. I saw thousands of happy faces Friday night and Saturday morning — some of them downright giddy — and all because of a book.
How beautiful is that?
I’m proud to have been in downtown Northfield for this historic occasion and prouder still that I live in a place with so many well-meaning people who made a night like that one possible. I took as many photos as I could; there’s a scrolling slideshow below. Also, check out other local online photo galleries, such as Doug Bratland’s at Northfield.org and Griff Wigley’s Pottermania collection. The NDDC also has a post on this topic worth checking out.
I’ll remember the night for a long time and I suspect many images will linger. I enjoyed the communal viewing and couldn’t believe the numbers — more than a thousand, easy — who joined the movie-going crowd. I was happy when I heard sincere thanks given to members of the River City Books staff. People were thrilled by the chance to celebrate in such grand fashion.
I’ll remember the joy and the kindness, the countdown at midnight, and the controlled chaos. Perhaps my favorite moment, though, came while watching this cute little blond-haired girl tried to “ride” her broomstick in the six-legged Quidditch races. She wasn’t the quickest player to toe the line. But she rode as fast as she could, never taking her eyes off her mom and never allowing the smile to leave her face.
Here’s that slideshow I promised above (click on for larger images and captions):