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Potter mania sweeps BG, nation, breaks records

BGSU on Main held a midnight release party Friday night into Saturday morning in honor of the release of the hotly anticipated book, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.”

The store was just one of the thousands around the country that were open at midnight in honor of the release of the sixth book in the Potter series.

According to Lisa Holton, president of Scholastic Children’s Books, the number of Harry Potter bookstore release parties increased six-fold, from 800 to 5,000.

Local events included BGSU on Main, Woodland Mall, Westfield Shoppingtown Franklin Park and the Main Library in Toledo where hundreds of children and parents enjoyed a night of Potter festivities.

The book ended up breaking sales records by selling 6.9 million copies in its first 24 hours — averaging better than 250,000 sales per hour.

While around 40 of those books came from BGSU on Main, at the beginning of the night it appeared that Bowling Green was a town comprised of muggles. By 11:30 p.m. the majority of people filling the bookstore were employees. It seemed the light drizzle would keep fans from staying up until midnight to get their hands on the new book.

That didn’t dampen the spirits of the employees who made their own fun being dressed up as many of the popular characters. Harry Potter was in attendance with his owl friend Hedwig, as well as friend Hermione, foe Draco Malfoy, helpful Hagrid and teachers like Professor Snape, McGonagall and Dumbledore.

However, as the clock ticked closer to midnight, people began streaming into the bookstore. But not a single patron was still in grade school, as many of the attendees were students of the University or just middle-aged Potter fans eagerly anticipating the book.

Krissy King, senior, and her friend Mallory Graham, junior, decided to make a night out of it by having beers and snacks waiting for them when they got home in order to stay up late and read the new Potter tale.

“I made fun of my mom and my sister when they read it. I was like, ‘You guys have some serious mental issues,'” King said.

However, after deciding on “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” the third book in the series, as something to read while laying out tanning, she was hooked.

“I’ve read each book four or five times and I’m not a dork,” she insisted. “I usually read them every night before I go to bed… and I’m not an avid reader, this is probably the only book I’ll ever read.”

Many of the adults in the store said they were surprised they enjoyed a series of books intended for kids as much as they would. They cited the good morals, as well as the fun adventures, as the reason the book appeals to 50-year-olds just as much as 15-year-olds.

“They are a lot of fun, a great escape. They are about tolerance and inclusion, instead of exclusion,” said Tyler Ward, an employee at Panera and also an avid Potter fan, who asked to help out the bookstore with their midnight festivities.

Ward was definitely unique among the employees. Not only was he the most avid Potter fan in the group (who promised to have the book finished by Saturday afternoon), but his costume was unique in that his character was not anywhere in Harry Potter literature.

Ward was dressed as Professor Ward, from the Avistrum Academy of Sorcery. He, along with some friends based out of Denver, Colo., began a Harry Potter fan club that quickly morphed into a fan Web site (www.avistrum.org) that later morphed into a fictional school for those interested in the magic and witchcraft featured in the Potter novels. The Web site boasts over 200 members which is split among faculty and staff. The site includes a fictional history for the school as well as its main professors.

“I am surprised it has been as fulfilling for the people who run it as for the people who attend it,” Ward said about his time with the Avistrum Academy.

Cathy Schapler, manager of the store, was pleased that so many people decided to come, especially with the low attendance early in the evening.

“I just wish there were more children. Oh well,” she said.

Perhaps they were all at the Main Library.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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