Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Thousands celebrate Potter finale

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J. Adam Fenster⁄The Gazette
Bethesda’s Trevor Berry, 5, awaits the release of ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,’ the seventh and final book in the beloved series, late Friday night. Berry was one of hundreds of fans waiting for the book to go on sale at the Borders bookstore at White Flint Mall in North Bethesda.
It was a night fit for a wizard — specifically J.K. Rowling’s boy wizard Harry Potter.

Witches and sorcerers outnumbered Muggles — the non-magical — Friday as hundreds of people across the county waited in lines for hours to buy the seventh and final book in the Potter series, ‘‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” which went on sale at midnight.

In downtown Silver Spring, businesses transformed into the sites of Diagon Alley, a London street in the Potter series accessible to the wizarding community.

And in Rockville, Montgomery College transformed the campus bookstore into the magical village of Hogsmeade where Potter fans used Galleons, or wizard money, to have their fortunes told and ‘‘buy” Potter glasses, potions, spells and candy. Faculty members dressed as characters from the books.

When the clock struck midnight in Rockville, Alex Goldstein, 17, who had been ‘‘counting down every hour for the past 150 days,” and Kaitlin Scanlan, 19, ran from the store screaming, copies of the much-anticipated book in hand.

And Zachary Shapiro, 9, left the store beseeching his parents for a glance at the book’s table of contents. Shapiro, dressed as his favorite character, Potter, said he had read every book three times and could recite every spell.

But not every Potter event in the area was as dramatic.

Things were much quieter at Potomac’s Tree Top Kids store, where 20 percent of its earnings from the latest Potter book will be donated to the Make-A-Wish foundation, said Liz Tromba, the store’s vice-president for books and book buying.

For Jordan Harris, 9, the night was bittersweet, since the event marked the release of the final book. The Silver Spring resident picked up the series when he was in kindergarten, and has grown to relate to Potter.

‘‘I like the way he acts around his friends,” said Harris, clutching a Firebolt flying broomstick.

Staff Writers Contessa Crisostomo and Brad Pearson contributed to this story.