Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Montgomery College throws party for wizard

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J. Adam Fenster⁄The Gazette
Beth Homan of Montgomery Village (top left), Olga Pereira of Montgomery Village and Mallik Kalyandurg of Gaithersburg have their photos taken with a Harry Potter cutout at Montgomery College’s celebration of the final book’s release.
The Montgomery College community celebrated the release of the final installment in the Harry Potter book series by turning its bookstore into Hogsmeade, the only magical village in Britain.

Children, college students and adults filed into the bookstore dressed as wizards, witches or in their favorite Hogwarts house colors from the books. They each collected a handful of Galleons — wizard money — from ‘‘Gringott’s Wizard Bank.” For one or two Galleons, guests could ‘‘buy” Harry Potter glasses, temporary tattoos, potions, spells and candy, and have their fortunes told.

Susan Kryszak, the bookstore operations manager, said this was the college’s first time throwing a party like this one.

‘‘I always thought a bookstore should be a gathering place on campus and have events that include the entire community,” Kryszak said. ‘‘It’s like a block party in a neighborhood.”

Kryszak enlisted help from students and faculty from many departments on campus. Students helped set up and operate the event, while faculty members played characters from the books, such as the fortune-telling Professor Trelawney or the potion master Bathilda Bagshot. They got their costumes from the college theater department.

‘‘People came up with so many ideas that grew out of their experiences and feelings for Harry,” Kryszak said.

The bookstore ordered 200 copies of the coveted book, which arrived Thursday in Scholastic boxes labeled ‘‘Do Not Open Until July 21, 2007,” taped, sealed and wrapped in black plastic.

Kryszak stored the books in an ‘‘undisclosed location” within the bookstore to prevent any books from escaping before the strict release date.

More than 100 books were pre-ordered and by Monday afternoon, about 160 copies were sold. Kryszak said they would probably sell out by the end of the week.

While setting up on Friday afternoon, bookstore staff cleared out the merchandise, replacing it with tables for crafts, fortune telling, potions and spells, and a miniature movie theater where the movies were projected onto the wall.

At 10:30 p.m. Friday, the bookstore-turned-Hogsmeade opened its doors.

‘‘Bathilda Bagshot,” played by bookstore supervisor Marilyn Andrews, waved her magic wand and cast spells for the children who gathered at her table.

At the next table was ‘‘Zonko’s Joke Shop,” where, for a couple Galleons, guests could buy a coin trick, Chinese finger traps or fake eyeballs.

Nearby, Professor Sybill Trelawney, played by Yolanda Martinez, made predictions — usually wrong ones — using cards, a Magic 8-Ball and a crystal ball.

When recruitment coordinator Enas Elhanafi flipped over the joker card, Martinez said it means Elhanafi is rich.

‘‘She didn’t specify whether it was financially,” Elhanafi said laughing.

Across the hall, ‘‘The Leaky Cauldron” sold snacks, including its specialties: Dudley’s Dogs, Cauldron Cakes and Fizzing Whizbees.

When the clock struck midnight, everyone lined up to get his book.

Alex Goldstein, 17, and Kaitlin Scanlan, 19, ran screaming out the door after receiving their new books.

‘‘I’ve been counting down every hour for the past 150 days,” Goldstein said.

Goldstein and Scanlan, both Montgomery College students, went to the party right after performing in the summer dinner theater show ‘‘Ragtime.”

‘‘We barely got through the show,” Goldstein said.

Scanlan said she was excited, but sad to read the book.

‘‘I’m not ready for this to be over, but I can’t wait to read this,” she said.

At the ‘‘Owl Post,” 9-year-old Zachary Shapiro, another ‘‘Ragtime” actor, collected his pre-ordered copy and was literally jumping for joy.

Dressed as his favorite character — Harry Potter, of course — Shapiro proved to be the biggest fan. He read every book three times and can recite every spell.

‘‘Lumus! Petrificus!” he said, waving his wand.

As he walked away with his parents, he tried to crack open the book to begin reading, begging to at least read the table of contents.