New, final ‘Harry Potter’ book creates magical mayhem

Jake Grovum

On a cool summer night, the anticipation heated up inside Barnes & Noble as midnight approached in the HarMar Mall in Roseville.

Dressed-up Harry Potter fans, 4,500 strong, of all ages counted down the final 10 seconds before midnight. They were there to celebrate the release of the final installment of the Harry Potter series, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”

Events like this were held across the Twin Cities and around the world in anticipation of the book’s release.

In the United States, 8.3 million copies of the book were sold in the first 24 hours following the release, averaging more than 30,000 copies sold per hour, according to Scholastic, Inc.

Before rushing to get in line for their copies, those in attendance took part in Harry Potter trivia and danced to music in the mall while others laid claim to their own space inside the store, camping out with books and magazines.

Some slept in front of the store the night prior to the release to ensure they would be among the first to get their copies.

Carolynne Hahn was one of those readers; she spent the night with friends and her mother, Leslie Hahn.

“It’s like we’ve been growing up reading this and now it’s going to be over,” she said. “I’m excited and I’m scared and I’m sad. It’s just a huge mix of emotions. I don’t want it to end, but I want to know the ending.”

Many fans in attendance pointed out the characters as the reason for the book’s popularity.

“You kind of just fall in love with all the characters,” Carolynne Hahn said. “I don’t know if it’s so much identifying, it’s more that you connect with them and you start to feel like you know the characters.”

Leslie Hahn said the way the series encourages people to read is one of her favorite things about the books.

“J.K. Rowling. She’s my hero because she got all these kids reading,” she said. “There’s a lot of people that will sit outside for an iPod or an iPhone, but how about a book? I think that’s really cool.”

Once midnight had come and gone, the readers shuffled through the frenzy, making their way to get their books.

Diana Renslow was first in line at the event after she slept outside the store the previous night.

“I like them, they’re one of the first books that I liked, that I couldn’t put down,” she said. “I didn’t start reading them until after I saw the first movie four times.”

Economics sophomore Madeline Estes, a “huge Harry Potter fan,” has been reading the series since she was in fifth grade.

“(Harry) feels so relatable; his problems I can relate to,” she said. “When he hangs out with his friends and stuff, it’s sort of like how I hang out with my friends.”

While she started reading the series long ago, Estes said her love for the books has not dissipated over the years.

“It’s kind of like I grew up with them Ö I kind of emotionally matured with Harry,” she said. “I like how it’s about school. I kind of like teen angst, so I dig that part of it.”

Gary Zahradka was in attendance with his family and was dressed up. He said he doesn’t dress as any one character, but “just in the spirit of the event.”

“It’s a geek fest,” he said. “The people that were put down in school and didn’t do well socially, of course you want to read about a hero who ends up winning.”

Zahradka said the current state of world affairs has also driven the popularity of the books.

“The whole series has become popular during wartime and during a Republican presidency,” he said. “Those that like imagination may (have) a little more freedom of thought and kind of cling to (the books) as life rafts.”

Barnes & Noble manager Rachel Peterson said previous release parties have been large celebrations, but this was the biggest yet.

“Last time, we started wheeling the books out still in their boxes before midnight, and all the kids wanted to touch the boxes,” she said. “It’s just so cool that kids could get that excited about a book.”

“We’ll probably not see anything like it ever again,” Peterson said.