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Live-Blogging the Harry Potter Party

9:31 p.m.

Yes, this is how I spend my Friday nights. And why not? I'm not ashamed.

I'm at the flagship Powell's City of Books store in drizzly downtown Portland (yes, even in late July — it's Oregon, people) for the release of the final Harry Potter book. This promises to be the biggest — and last — event of its kind in the bookselling world.

The line started last night, when a couple of people asked to camp out in front of the store; they even brought tents, this being Oregon, and Oregon being what it is (yes, even in late July). By now there are TONS of people, many in costume, all awaiting the moment Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows finally goes on sale at 12:01 a.m. tonight.

I will bring you updates the whole time.

En route to the store I passed the park blocks and got my first glimpses of Harry Potter-mania: a group of enthusiasts in costume performing what I can only imagine are authentic medieval folk dances. Because what else could they possibly be?

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Coming up the street I encountered a six-and-a-half-foot-tall witch who was retrieving blankets from the car for her kids. They'd been waiting all day.

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Why she didn't just cast a warmth spell, I suppose muggles like myself aren't supposed to understand.

10:05 p.m.

Apologies for the delays. Due to technical constraints (i.e. no USB ports on the Powell's computer I'm using) my unpaid lackey has to take these pictures on his camera-phone and email them to me. So far there have been a few wrinkles in the system, but they seem to be ironing out.

One hour until Powell's closes. The doors won't open again until 12:01 a.m. to let in the throng of people waiting. What throng? you ask.

You and your silly questions.

This throng:

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And this one:

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Here are a couple of Death Eaters who asked to make out with the photographer:

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10:18 p.m.

I've uncovered the identity of the mysterious folk dancers. They're the Bridgetown Morris Men:

Decked out in ribbons and bells they performed athletic dances with handkerchiefs and sticks to encourage good fortune and fertility for the coming season. The Bridgetown Morris Men keep this age-old tradition alive in Portland. Our shows are an energetic mix of traditional dances, music, songs and plays.

Here they are in action:

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And here's Jim, who seems very happy he isn't sweeping chimneys at the moment:

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10:37 p.m.

Even in drizzly Oregon rain (yes, I KNOW it's July!), the Harry Potter faithful wait for their books. The smart ones bring rain gear:

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Everyone loves a news van:

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11:06 p.m.

The Burnside store has earned the name "Powell's City of Books" because it takes up an entire city block. Want to know how long the line has gotten? It goes around the entire building. From one end to the next.

A whole city block (and that's not counting the revelers still, er, reveling along Couch Street).

You're skeptical. You don't believe me. That's fine, I have photographic evidence.

Here's the line along the side of the building facing Burnside:

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Here's 11th Avenue between Burnside and Couch:

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And 10th Avenue between Burnside and Couch:

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And as for Couch Street, well... it's a little cluttered just now:

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11:26 p.m.

The treasure has arrived................

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Quick, somebody turn to the last page!!!!!!!

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Just kidding. I shall reveal no secrets.

11:33 p.m.

Preparations are underway to turn Burnside's Orange Room into Harry Potter Paradise.

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Employees should always have this much fun opening boxes of free stuff:

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Welcome to Hogwarts...

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11:46 p.m.

Some pictures from earlier in the evening.

The street alongside 10th Avenue:

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Sans magic, muggles must settle for face painting:

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You thought a little rain would stop Harry Potter fanatics? You don't know Harry Potter fanatics...

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All the hottest babes love Hagrid!

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11:58 p.m.

The music plays louder. Tension mounts. The crowd surges.

The doors are about to be opened...

12:15 a.m.

The staff races to their positions as the moment nears.

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Hagrid and Dumbledore lead the way...

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The frenzy begins...

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A deafening shriek erupts (I kid you not...) and the first ones are in!!!

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12:26 a.m.

Pictures from the eye of the storm...

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Dumbledore presides serenely over the mayhem. (Something tells me he's fond of poetry...)

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Hagrid maintains order.

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12:34 a.m.

Commemorative stamping for the lucky first buyer.

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Oh, sure — make fun of the Harry Potter fans all you want. Powell's employee Chris Valaas is wearing a Dungeons & Dragons T-shirt!

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12:46 a.m.

Who wants a collector's item??

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Check your books, kids — on some copies, p. 706 turns into an upside-down 738! But don't worry, you can flip to where p. 738 should be and read from 707... then jump back to 739 for the crucial last 20 pages!

12:50 a.m.

Catching up...
(Dude, this live-blogging gig is tough. I want a raise.)

Another shot of the first group through the door:

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Slowly they filter in, each one secretly wondering: Now what am I going to do with my life?

Perhaps some will spot a man wearing a black Dungeons & Dragons T-shirt and discover a beacon to their special purpose in this world...

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The first row of buyers! Admit it, you're burning with envy.

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12:56 a.m.

Scoff if you will, unbelievers, but when was the last time you saw a crowd of enthusiastic people of all ages treat a book release like a rock concert?

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That first, crazed rush of adrenaline has worn off. Now most of these people are dreaming of their warm, comfy beds and soft pajamas...

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1:10 a.m.

One hour later and the crowd hasn't diminished much at all, either in size or enthusiasm.

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Still going...

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Powell's Lori St. James, before the onslaught:

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Dumbledore welcomes you to Track 9-3/4:

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Inside the mind of Dumbledore: I hope nobody thinks I'm gonna clean up all this dry ice...

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1:29 a.m.

Ladies and gentlemen: the indefatigable Mike Lamb!!!

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He's unstoppable. Seriously. You can't stop the man. You just can't, so don't even try.

I, on the other hand, am ready to stop. I'm hearing that the line is finally within the block:

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Even so, that's a whole lot of people and at least another half-hour of Harry Potter frenzy. And my assistant's cellphone battery is just about dead.

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And so, I bid you a fond adieu from deep within the trenches of Powell's City of Books in Portland, Oregon. Good night — and happy reading!

÷ ÷ ÷

Brockman is the head writer for the daily Book News posts on the Powells.com blog. In his free time he's hard at work on his fictional memoir, which changes titles daily.

The views and commentary posted by Brockman are entirely his own, and are not representative of the whole of Powell's Books, its employees, or any sane human being.


Books mentioned in this post

  1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows...
    Used Hardcover $8.95



16 Responses to "Live-Blogging the Harry Potter Party"

  1.  
    Muggle John July 20th, 2007 at 11:04 pm

    Dude, I totally know those Death Eaters! Watch out, they'll eat you alive.

  2.  
    KyleRanger July 21st, 2007 at 12:49 am

    Brockman is my hero.

  3.  
    muggle charlesbike July 21st, 2007 at 7:56 am

    I've enjoyed vicariously your coverage from Tallahssee, FL, and as soon as CarTalk and the Tour de France stage 13 TT is over I'm bicycling down to the local bookshop (unfortunately nothing like the great Powell's which I was visited after an epic STP 200 in '03) to check out the lattest, but also the Wallace book of essays. thanks, Brockman.

  4.  
    elizabeth a airhart July 21st, 2007 at 11:12 am

    thank you what a jolly time you all
    had this posting is just delightful
    magical as it travels over unseen
    air and into my machine hedwig at your service

  5.  
    Valarie July 21st, 2007 at 11:51 am

    Once you've recovered, can you let us know how many books were sold at the midnight release? When I last checked, at about 11:10, the line went down to 11th and Davis. I'd love to know how far back it went, and how many people were actually there.

    Thanks to all the Powells employees who worked hard and late to give us all such a great party.

  6.  
    Jereme July 21st, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    You brought all of the magic right into my lap(top) and I didn't even have to hop on my Nimbus. Now call me and read the book to me.

  7.  
    Barbara Ellis July 21st, 2007 at 3:45 pm

    Hey,
    I hear rumors that all the Potter books will be in boxed sets for Christmas. What will they cost?

    Great photos that capture the mood of PDX readers and the city! And, above all, Powell's. Nice work!!

  8.  
    Mindy July 21st, 2007 at 4:15 pm

    hehe! i found myself in the 2nd 10:05 pic. You cant tell, but i was face painting, and it was a total blast!

  9.  
    Beth July 22nd, 2007 at 8:49 am

    Hi Barbara, Indeed -- a boxed set! A cool $195. It is supposed to be released in September. Here's our link:
    http://www.powells.com/biblio/9780545044257

  10.  
    magicain of black chaos July 24th, 2007 at 5:07 am

    wo dat was cresy altho i dnt has the book yet i wuiill soon :) waten for perice to go down and i could finsh 5th 1 in 2 days i could finsih diz 1 in like 1 and half :) =)=)=)=)=)

  11.  
    Professor Elaine LePen July 25th, 2007 at 1:40 am

    I didn't find a picture of myself, but I was the witch in blue robes with a tall black hat (I'm Professor of Literature, Folklore, Fairy Tales at Salem Institute for Witches). My roommate was with me (Professor of Household Magic and Practical Potions at Hogwarts) wearing her Hufflepuff robes with a short yellow hat. We got there about 8:30, and Couch was about3/4 full at that point. We had a blast- very sorry that this is the end!

  12.  
    Claudia July 25th, 2007 at 8:39 am

    What FUN!! I so wish I'd been there! Even the rain looks fun...especially for those of us parching in the West! Yet as I looked at the throngs waiting, playing, and partying in the rain for all those hours, I'm mindful and amazed that all this brouhaha is over a BOOK...not a rock star...not an athlete...not a multi-gazillion-dollar movie...a BOOK. Beautiful.

  13.  
    Erin July 25th, 2007 at 8:45 am

    I am finished with the final book and I cannot beleive its really over! I'm sad because I tried to read the book as slow as I could so as not to let it end, but I finished it this morning and I sat there on the final page of the epilouge with tears streaming down my face in sheer happiness. I am so happy to be amongst the many people who have enjoyed the last decade of this magical, wonderful series of books and this magical character and I truly do wish I could do it all over again! :)

  14.  
    Pat MacAodha July 25th, 2007 at 10:17 am

    Thanks for the chronology. I had to go to a competitor's party in Milwaukie, but my heart was at Powells. Finished at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday.

    Huzzah Jo Rowling! You are awesome.

  15.  
    Kevin Jacques July 30th, 2007 at 5:32 pm

    Living in Seattle, and being scheduled for the day shift at 7:00 am Saturday, I couldn't be at Powell's for this. But we wanted to be...

  16.  
    Mimi Wheatwind August 4th, 2007 at 7:43 am

    I remember the party on July 16th, two summers ago, because I was one of the many Powell's workers that night. The blog brought it all back: the growing excitement, the revelry and magic, the patient lines of people, who by the end had forged many new friendships (I remember so many Hugs as they went off to different cashiers) and Dear Dumbledore: a Divine Presence. Thank you for all the photos! As I sit, many miles away in the Tucson desert landscape, I feel a tender nostalgia for many of my old friends and cohorts at Powell's. Even before Rowling's books arrived at the City of Books, the years I worked there were indeed * Magical *
    I miss you ALL! Keep reading, and keep up the good work you all do.

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