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Scene@ Muggle Madness Party

Friday, July 20, Flying Pig Bookstore, Shelburne, 10:30 p.m.


Published July 25, 2007 at 4:00 a.m.

The owners of the Flying Pig Bookstore knew what they were doing when they dubbed their Harry Potter book-release event a “Muggle Madness Party.” Hundreds of fans showed up for the late-night affair, eager to get their hands on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows the moment it appeared, at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.

I was there as a reporter, but I was also desperate to pick up my copy of the seventh and last Harry Potter book. Yes, technically, the novels are “children’s’ books,” but that’s just semantics. I started reading them in my twenties, and I’ve read each of them at least twice; I re-read books five and six over the last few weeks, in preparation.

But I didn’t dress in costume for the party, mainly because I didn’t want to look like a big dork.

That didn’t stop one middle-aged woman I met, who was dressed as Hogwarts’ Professor Trelawney and packing a crystal ball in her purse.

The shrewd owners of the Flying Pig planned several pre-book-release activities for the evening, including an appearance by a Great Horned Owl — owls feature prominently in the books — and a costume contest, which drew about 40 participants.

Most of the contestants were under 12, but there were some teenagers, too. Shelburne resident Jill Ravey, 18, was one of the winners. She wore wing-tipped glasses and a red feather boa above her lime-green sweater. I pegged her immediately as Rita Skeeter, an overbearing journalist who plays a bit part in the books.

Ravey told me she and her friends had all dressed as minor characters, such as Skeeter, Colin Creevey and Mr. Filch. “We thought, ‘Everyone’s going to dress up as Harry and Hermione,’” she explained.

Willy McKay, 18, of North Ferrisburgh was one of those dressed as Harry. He called the release of the final book “a historic moment.”

I had to agree with him. It’s hard to imagine that the world will ever again see such a diverse group of fans this excited about buying a new book.