At the stroke of 12:01am, July 31, 2016, boxes were cut open to the resounding cheers of awaiting readers who had counted down the last 10 minutes while they stood in line. Many were dressed in costumes, carrying wands, and wearing time turners around their necks. They waited patiently for Harry Potter And The Cursed Child to be placed into their hands, whisk out the door, and begin reading.
I attended the Harry Potter event at Fenton’s Open Book. The quaint book store resonated with the familiar tune from the soundtrack. Wax sealed letters fluttering from the lights and were hidden throughout the store. All of the letters were addressed to Harry. A white speckled plastic owl on a shelf held two letter in her beak. Several staff members were donned in black robes, served chocolate frogs, gummy slugs, and gold chocolate coins (from Gringotts, no doubt). On a platter were gummy worms, sour patch gummy worms, more slugs, and more chocolate coins. A small cauldron brimmed with Bertie Botts flavored jelly beans, which the guests chose wisely. They drank butter beer while counting the total number of envelopes and entered their guess for a chance to win a book store gift card or engaged in printed activity worksheets. Many fans helped themselves to a lightning bolt tattoo or poster. Markers were available for a ‘muggle’ to explain what Harry Potter meant to them on the oversized poster.
As I watched the customers linger about the book store, I realized the latest release in the Harry Potter books was more than just a book for the following reasons:
- It is a success story of J. K. Rowling facing challenging times and rising above it.
- The series has inspired many to pick up a book and read.
- K. Rowling’s books have helped small, independent book stores stay in business and continue to serve their community.
- K. Rowling has inspired others to imagine and write.
- In my small city of Fenton, Michigan, it has brought together citizens of various ages for a few hours when they would normally be sleeping. They enjoyed each other’s company, ate, shopped, and supported a local business.
I imagine some of the books were opened and read throughout the early morning hours. I will begin, and perhaps finish, my book today.
I am thankful for the positive influence J. K. Rowling’s work has had on my community. For those who write for others to read, may we hope to achieve such an influence on others’ lives.