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February 16, 2024

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Local stores deliver the Potter goods

Harry Potter mania has spread throughout the world, and though many people gathered in London, Paris and New York for the release of the final book in the series, it has not skipped a beat in the smaller towns of Bowling Green, Findlay and Perrysburg.

Bookstores, libraries, and even grocery stores in the surrounding areas held celebrations from Friday night until Saturday morning in honor of the 12:01 a.m. release of “Harry Potter” and the Deathly Hallows.

One of the busiest local places to fulfill devoted Harry Potter fan’s needs was Books-A-Million in Perrysburg, where both the front and back entrances were overflowing with patrons. The store catered to the younger audience, providing an arts and crafts tent for children to make wands and bookmarks, while also hosting a simple magic trick table. Mandy Lehman, the store’s merchandising specialist, was prepared with supplies to entertain hundreds of children, but by 11:30 p.m., the art inventory ran out.

Eleven-year-old friends Mariah Alafa and Kelley Lewis were some of the last young artists under the tent. They talked about their favorite character, Hermione Granger, while they made pet owls out of brown paper bags.

“She’s my favorite because when Harry is doing something wrong, she corrects him,” Alafa said. “She’s really smart.”

Meanwhile, 34-year-old Shelia Wright was standing in line just outside the bookstore’s entranceway decked out in her Madam Bones costume. The mother of three started reading the Harry Potter series 10 years ago when the first book was released. Her favorite character also happened to be Hermione.

“She’s like me, an insufferable know-it-all,” Wright said.

As Wright waited patiently to get her hands on the last installment of Harry Potter, she discussed her predictions about the book.

“The way the story has gone so far, at least three people might die,” Wright hypothesized, “Malfoy will turn over a new leaf, and Snape is evil.”

Wright felt so strongly about her Snape conviction that she made $100 bet with her husband.

“He thinks Snape’s a good guy,” she laughed.

Books-A-Million also held Harry Potter trivia, where the three people who answered the most questions got to be the first in line to buy the book.

“It was really intense,” said 17-year-old Ellen Lathrop. “They asked what page Dumbledore died.”

Lathrop was dressed like a muggle, but she brought along her more magical friends Harry Potter, Draco Malfoy, Belatrix Lestrange and a snitch.

It was a few minutes before midnight and the group of friends had been at the bookstore for two hours. Malfoy, known in real life as Alex Gutkoski, still seemed to be having a good time.

“Since [age] 10, I’ve been talking to friends, doing trivia and chasing the snitch,” Gutkoski said.

A few minutes later, the entire line of eager fans started chanting, “Harry! Harry! Harry!” A countdown began.




The trivia winners ran out of the store holding their newest prized possessions, receiving hugs from complete strangers who realized it was probably going to be another hour until they got their books.

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