Tuesday, July 19, 2005

A muggle's diary

Saturday night I attended the McWane Center's Harry Potter book release party. I wasn't sure what to expect from it at first. On one hand, I thought that the fact that they were charging admission and selling the books for a bit more than the local bookstores might keep people away. On the other hand, they're already quite experienced in hosting events, and the admission charge would help supplement whatever decorations they were setting up.

The party turned out to be an amazing event. They had everything turned into scenes from the Harry Potter novels — from platform 9¾ at the entrance, to food in the Great Hall, to books for sale at Flourish & Blotts — and that was before you even got past the lobby. When you entered the museum itself, you were given a Marauder's Map to explain the layout and schedule of event. Once inside, you could put on the sorting hat and be placed into the house of your choice (most kids picked Griffindor). You could take classes in arithmancy, care of magical creatures, potions, and charms. You could get your face painted or make a wand at Olivander's. Many of the coodinators were in costume. I saw Professors Dumbledore, McGonagal, Quirrell, and Trelawney. Also Hagrid, Mrs. Weasley, and Rita Skeeter. The folks at McWane really went all out, and they put on an impressive show.

But as good of a job as they did, what struck me even more was the crowd. That place was packed. And so many people were dressed up — both kids and adults — for the night they became wizards, witches, quidditch players, house elves, and dementors. There was a real excitement in the air, and I think everybody felt it.

After a couple hours there, it dawned on me why I was having such a good time. Where I'd really wanted to be last weekend was in San Diego for Comic-Con International. And what I've always loved about that convention is the people. When you're in an exhibit hall with 80,000 other people who are all there for the same thing, you feel like you're part of something really important and special. At home, you're just a geek who reads comic books, but there, you realize that everyone else does too — they're like you, and they're not all weirdos.

That's how it felt at the Harry Potter party. I didn't feel a bit like a dork for being an adult who enjoys the Harry Potter books. There were tons of adults there who were in the same boat. We relished the evening; we cheered when the clock struck midnight; and we went home exhausted and smiling.

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