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Published: Sunday, 6/15/2003

Local fans poised to greet Harry

BY TAHREE LANE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

It's a cross between Halloween and New Year's Eve.

As Friday night melts into summer's solstice, children and adults will don costumes, eat sweets, and count down to midnight when they will joyously exchange $18 to $30 for 896 pages and countless hours of pleasure.

A teenaged Harry Potter, the wizard who inspired the late-night book-release party, will fly into the waiting arms of millions next weekend with the publication of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

In July 2000, when the fourth book in the Harry Potter series was published, clever booksellers jumped on the Hogwarts wagon, hosting lively evening bashes at which kids and their parents came dressed as Harry, Hermione, Hagrid, Professor Dumbledore, and Moaning Myrtle. The tome was sold at 12:01 a.m., as called for in bookstore contracts. Same deal with Harry V.

The book retails for $29.99, but many large stores are discounting it by 30 and 40 percent. A leather-bound version sells for $60. The unabridged audio book retails for $45 on 17 cassettes, and the 23-compact disc set is priced at $75.

Most shops and even some public libraries are finalizing logistics for a repeat performance.

“We asked, `Why can't we do that?'” said Nancy Eames, children's library manager at Main library.

In a first for the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, downtown's Main library will open Friday night at 10 for Midnight Magic to the first 1,200 people who previously picked up free tickets. Some are still available, but only at Main library. A magician will astound, a fortune teller will be profound, door prizes will abound.

“We've asked people to wear their wizardry robes or graduation gowns,” said Ms. Eames, noting that librarians will be suitably attired.

The Winter Garden will be transformed into a school of witchcraft and wizardry. Patrons will be able to make broomstick pencils, have a lightning bolt tattooed on their foreheads, and get a pair of round, Harry-style glasses.

The first 150 families to queue up will be able to withdraw a copy of Harry V, which can be kept for four weeks.

If you haven't already reserved it and aren't among the first 150 to arrive, chances are you may have to wait a while to borrow a copy, said Ms. Eames. More than 200 patrons have reserved the book, she said. Three years ago, when the budget was flush, the library purchased 1,000 copies of Harry IV, said Chris Kozak, media relations officer. Stinging with budget cuts this year, it ordered 510 copies of Harry V, as well as audio books.

Saturday at 1:30 p.m., Main library will host a free screening of the 161-minute Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in the second floor McMaster Center.

Also Saturday, there's a Breakfast at Hogwarts for youngsters age 9 and over at the Washington branch at 9:30 a.m. Registration is required.

Several other branches are holding events this week and next, including quizzes, games, and crafts.

Here's the lowdown on Harry for some area bookstores:

Reading Railroad in Sylvania will open at 11:30 p.m. Friday for a short party. Youngsters are invited to dress in costume and vie for a prize, perform magic, play a game, and enjoy the butter beer booth (vanilla ice cream with cream soda), said Marcia Kaplan, manager of the independent store.

Thackeray's Books will open at 10:30 p.m. A 45-minute show of Hogwart magic by the Glass City Sorcerer begins at 11 p.m.

“What we found last time is that we tried to do all this stuff and there were just too many kids,” said Chris Champion, public relations director. In 2000, Thackeray's staff kept dashing out to a grocery store to replenish refreshments. Their Harry cake was a hit but the frosting was a mess, he said.

Doors to the Little Professor Book Center's new location open at 11 p.m. Staff will dress in costume and one will have live snakes, said Dennis Fennell, co-owner.

Barnes and Noble Booksellers, which has a monthly Harry Potter club, will launch its fiesta at 9 p.m. Friday with a look-alike costume contest. However, at 9 a.m., it will begin passing out place-in-line tickets, said Jennifer Habrych, community relations manager.

Activities include making maudeurs maps with invisible ink, spell books, wands and wizard hats, as well as tea-leaf readings, a herbology class, and a trivia contest.

“We're going to try to keep them really busy until midnight,” said Ms. Habrych. Harry-themed refreshments will be available for purchase.

B. Dalton Booksellers in Southwyck Mall will open at 8 a.m. Saturday, said Bruce Michalak, assistant manager.

Toys R Us on Monroe Street will open at midnight Friday for people who previously reserved the book. Reserves are no longer being taken, said Pat Borden, store director. People who haven't reserved books can purchase them beginning at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.

Waldenbooks at the Woodland Towne Centre in Bowling Green will open at midnight Friday, preceded by a Harry trivia contest at 10 p.m. at the mall's food court. Saturday at 10 a.m., a costume contest will be held at the food court.

Media Play stores will be open Friday to sell the book and will re-open at 8 a.m. Saturday.

The Open Book in Fremont will remain open all Friday and will have a Harry look-alike contest and games at 11:30 p.m., said Barbara Fisher, owner.



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