It’s party time for ‘Potterheads’
Local fans host celebration for eighth instalment of beloved series by J.K. Rowling
A BURLINGTON BOOKSTORE will be transformed into a wizarding world on July 30 to welcome the latest instalment in the Harry Potter series.
“We’re trying to make it a true fan experience,” says Lauraine Woods, an avid reader of J.K. Rowling’s acclaimed series and who, along with some fellow “Potterheads” as they’re called, will host a midnight release party at A Different Drummer Books for “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.”
The Saturday night event will be complete with costumes, props, trivia, a scavenger hunt, a sorting hat and fortune telling in the style of goggle-eyed Professor Trelawney. Fans of all ages are encouraged to come sporting their wizard robes or house colours and bring their wands.
The beauty of the Harry Potter stories is they appeal to all generations, says Woods, alias Professor Pomona Sprout and a Hufflepuff at heart. “If you like it, you really like it,” she says.
The first instalment of the blockbuster book series, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” was first published in 1997 in the U.K. Since then, the Harry Potter books, which chronicle the adventures of accidental wizard orphan Harry and his friends at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, have gone on to break bestseller records worldwide and develop a dedicated fan base.
The eight movies spun out of the books, starring Daniel Radcliffe as the messy-haired, bespectacled Harry and an all-star cast, have garnered similar success.
Harry Potter’s appeal spans not only language and culture — an estimated 450 million copies of the books have sold worldwide, in-
cluding 11 million in Canada, in more than 70 languages — but age groups, too, with Rowling’s whimsical universe being discussed not just in elementary school classrooms but university lectures, academic conferences, Comic Con-style conventions and informal fan groups like the one Woods launched, which includes a mixture of retirees, working adults and students.
Woods started hosting an annual Harry Potter “conference” at her house three years ago, complete with Quidditch in the backyard, crafts, research presentations and themed food, as a way to spend time with her teenage niece and nephew and her daughter. That tradition has carried on, and it’s what inspired the release party for the latest book.
“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” picks up 19 years after the seventh book of the series, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.” It’s written as a two-part stage play based on an original new story by Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany. In it, Harry is now an employee at the Ministry of Magic and his son, Albus Severus Potter, is struggling under the weight of the family legacy.
Ian Elliot, the owner of A Different Drummer, says the look and feel of the bookstore are very fitting for the event.
“It’s a spooky old place,” he says, describing the old three-storey Edwardian brick house where A Different Drummer is located. “It does have a certain aura.”
The store’s nooks and crannies will be decorated by life-sized (or almost) props made by Potterheads like Karen Alberti, whose Harry Potter persona is Professor Puddleduck (not an actual character in the books, but a name her late husband christened her with).
An avid crafter, Alberti says she finds the Harry Potter stories inspire creativity and are a great way to escape everyday life. Over the years she’s created likenesses of the Weasley car, Firenze the centaur, big hairy spiders and even the pesky blue pixies.
Meanwhile, fellow Potterhead Judy Horsley, who will don the robes of Gryffindor House’s Professor McGonagall, is still hunting down stuffed animals to stand in for Ron Weasley’s pet rat Scabbers and the cranky Hogwarts cat, Mrs. Norris, in time for the event … and practising her British accent.
“Adult play is wonderful,” says Horsley, who used to teach children’s literature. “I’m also a huge Maggie Smith fan,” she adds, referring to the actor who has played Professor McGonagall through the film series.
There have already been a few dozen preorders for the book and lots of inquiries about it, Elliot says, and he expects the buzz will last well into the summer.
“It will be a different reading experience for sure,” says Rachel Woods, Lauraine’s daughter, an elementary school teacher who might very well pull on her Moaning Myrtle costume for the event. “I have no idea what to expect.”
Harry Potter enthusiasts from left: Lynda Waldroff dressed as Sybill Trelawney, Judy Horsley as Professor Minerva McGonagall, Lauraine Woods as Professor Sprout, and Rachel Woods as Moaning Myrtle are hosting a party at A Different Drummer for the launch of the eighth Harry Potter book.
Harry Potter fans are hosting a party on for the launch of the eighth Harry Potter book at A Different Drummer Books in Burlington.