Preston Moore has been known to break out the Harry Potter glasses when attending a midnight viewing of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” — but don’t expect to find him at the theaters Thursday in a robe.
“I don’t have one,” Moore says with a laugh. “If I did, I’d probably wear it.”
The Iowa City resident does have a wand he made when he was 15. Moore, now 24, was one of the winners of Coca-Cola’s 2002 “Hogwarts Castle Adventure” contest. As such, he won a trip to London.
“I got to pretend I was at Hogwarts for a week,” Moore says.
In a way, the Harry Potter books and movies gave all fans the chance to pretend they were wizards. The series is a cultural phenomenon, one not even Professor Trelawney could predict. Before Harry Potter, midnight release parties for children’s books were unheard of.
Midnight release parties for any book were unheard of.
“I’ve been to concerts with fewer cheers than Barnes & Noble when midnight arrived,” Eric Green, 28, says.
The Marion resident attended the July 2007 book release party for the last Harry Potter venture, a favor to the girl he was dating at the time. She had dragged him to see the “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” movie earlier that month.
Curious, Green bought the first book that night. He was back a week later to purchase the rest.
“They just suck you in,” Green says. “You are in that world and you don’t want to leave.”
Carol Hoke, children’s and programming services manager at the Cedar Rapids Public Library, says the series had classic themes. Set in a school, with limited adult interaction, the young characters had to rely on themselves to solve their problems. Magic played a role, but Hermione reminded readers that brains were needed, too.
“Even though it is a fantasy, a lot of it is grounded in reality,” Hoke says. “These were characters that you cared about. You wanted to keep reading to find out what happened to them.”
“Harry Potter appeals to such a wide range of ages,” adds Maddie Armstrong, who coordinates the library’s teen programs. “Grandparents could read it to their grandchildren, parents could read them to their kids, siblings could enjoy the stories and egg each other on about finishing the next book.”
Harry’s story ended in 2007 with the release of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” book. The movie franchise, however, kept Harry fever high among Muggles for four more years.
“My boyfriend and I went to see ‘Transformers’ last week and I told him I didn’t even care about the movie,” says Samantha Terrill of Iowa City. “I just hoped they’d show a trailer for Harry Potter.”
Tickets for Friday’s 12:01 a.m. viewing went on sale weeks ago. Online retailer Fandango reports that the site already had sold out of more than 2,000 showings across the United States from Anchorage, Alaska, to Sunrise, Fla., according to a company statement.
Ella Brown will attend the midnight movie. The 2011 Iowa City West High School graduate plans to do a marathon viewing of the first seven films today with her friend Olivia Lluko, then go to the Coral Ridge Mall Thursday afternoon to snag a place in line before the movie.
Brown, 18, says she and Lluko will pass the time reading “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”
“On a one to 10, my excitement level is probably 10,000,” Brown says, “but it’s kind of sad, too.”
“It’s going to be weird that there won’t be another movie we’re waiting to see,” says Iowa City West High School Senior Erin Means.
Harry Potter was her summer camp companion. She always took one of the books with her when she went to Camp Conestoga. She was known as “Harry Potter Girl.”
“They are my childhood,” says Means, 17. “When I turned 11, I cried because I didn’t get my letter from Hogwarts.”
Terrill, 21, fully expects to cry during the movie — not that this is the first time Harry has brought her to tears.
Terrill was 17 when the last Harry Potter book was released. She drove to Bettendorf for the midnight party at Borders and was less than a mile from her Davenport home when road construction prompted her to take a shortcut through a church parking lot, which caught the attention of a police officer.
“I started crying,” Terrill says. “I was so afraid I was going to get in trouble, that my name would be in the paper and I wouldn’t get in college. I told the police officer ‘I’m not drinking, I’m not drunk. I’m just coming from the Harry Potter release party. You can see my book in the back seat.’”
She didn’t get a ticket or lose any house points. The officer let her go with a warning.
- By Meredith Hines-Dochterman, The Gazette