Lucky Number Seven: Highlights & Photos

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The much-anticipated release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh and final book in the celebrated series by J.K. Rowling, fulfilled the high expectations of booksellers, Potter partygoers -- and based on early reports -- readers of the 759-page volume. Online spoilers and copies released prematurely did not dampen the excitement and suspense that accompanied the momentous occasion.

Many independent bookstores promoted sales of the book by issuing tickets to their events to customers who purchased the book at their stores. Others, in conjunction with non-profit organizations and local business associations, held huge, town-wide festivities, transforming streets, stores, and trains into specific locations from Harry Potter's world. Here's a look at how Potter-mania was celebrated at a number of independents from New York to California.

Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse in Atlanta

Outwrite's cotillion volunteers at midnight

"The Harry Potter Party at Outwrite was a benefit for Atlanta Cotillion, which is a fundraiser for AID Atlanta. We decorated the store with hanging candles, colored the lights, served wine and food, had a big raffle, and, of course, gave patrons a chance to enter the 'Independent Muggles for Harry Potter' Sweepstakes. The raffle featured gifts from Outwrite, Book Sense gift cards, and dinners at neighborhood restaurants. The party was a huge success with over 100 books sold at the event, 200 people in the bookstore at midnight, and over $750 raised for AID Atlanta. People really appreciated this community bookstore being a part of the international celebration for Harry Potter." --Philip Rafshoon, Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse

Outwrite's Jeff Polston, partner Angelo Ritz, and store designer Robert Gaul

AID Atlanta staffers Jeff and Nicole.

Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, Georgia

"Like other independent bookstores Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, Georgia, was busy celebrating the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Dave Shallenberger [and I] shut the shop down early to allow the staff to decorate and prepare for the party that started at 10. Partygoers lined up early with their invitations. Upon entering they found owls, magicians, Hagrid, wand making, fortune telling, and other activities to do as they awaited the 12:00 o'clock witching hour and the release of the book." --Diane Capriola, Little Shop of Stories

Customers participating in activities while waiting for the witching hour at Little Shop of Stories.

Two small shoppers dressed for the occasion.

Booklovers Bookstore in Aiken, South Carolina

Booklovers' activities included bobbing for levitating apple.

"We had our biggest day ever -- dollar- and customer-wise (new and old). Our party was open to the public with no purchase required. I made Chocolate Frogs (small gummy bears dipped in chocolate), Broom Sticks (caramel on a little pretzel), and Caldron Cakes and Butter Beer (root beer with butter almond ice cream). We were given Chocolate Wands and Acid Pops. We also had Liquorish Wands and Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans (M&Ms, Skittles & Jelly Beans). We had a table for the kids to make wands. We played Harry Potter trivia and other games. Had a bubble machine for the kids to make magic bubbles with their wands. We had levitating apples -- like bobbing for apples but the apple is on a string that we could pull up and down. We had a chemistry teacher who is also an author, Cathy Cobb, as our Potion Master doing magic -- she was fantastic!

"Being in a small town has some advantages. We co-sponsored a writing contest with the Aiken Standard Newspaper. Our part was furnishing three Harry Potter books as prizes. For over a month they had an ad in the paper for the contest listing Booklovers Bookstore as sponsor. We made front page twice last week. Friday they ran an entire article on the front page about our party. A reporter was here at the party, and the story was on the front page of the Sunday paper.... I am so tired, but boy did I have fun!" --Fran Bush, Booklovers Bookstore

Events were held outside, under tents.

Cathy Cobb, author of Creations of Fire and The Joy of Chemistry, demonstrating witch potions.

Learned Owl Bookshop in Hudson, Ohio

Professor McGonagall and the tallest wizard in the world, on the way to the Start-of-Term Feast in Hudson, Ohio.

"Hudson, Ohio, transformed into 'Harry's World' on Friday, July 20, and 14,000 people came to the party. Although most transformations didn't take place until 6:00 p.m., the town started filling up about 2:00 in the afternoon. People came from Maryland, Wisconsin, Alabama, California ... and France, in addition to all over Ohio.

"There were magic shows, owl shows (put on by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History), snake and spider shows (by the Akron Zoo), three hours of Quidditch games, a Grand Parade of Lanterns, and thousands of people in costume. Many families all dressed up, giving the affair a very wizardly feel! Many of the businesses had crafts and/or giveaways, and all the restaurants had special Harry Potterized menus. One restaurant served 3,500 meals between 3:00 p.m. and midnight -- and it wasn't a very big restaurant!!" --Liz Murphy, Learned Owl Bookshop

Outside Western Reserve Academy's dining hall, which looks exactly like Hogwarts Dining Hall.

One of five buildings in a "Harry Potter Miniatures Display."

Books Inc. in San Francisco

"Books Inc. hosted nine midnight release parties throughout the Bay Area and one at our location in Downtown Disney in Anaheim. All of our parties were a huge success and each of our Bay Area locations partnered with either a school or and educational foundation to promote the events; in return we will be donating 20 percent of all the pre-sales and party sales of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows back to them. We've just finished crunching the numbers and it looks like we will be donating over $17,000 to the various schools & foundations we partnered with, which is really exciting!" --Shannon Mathis, Books Inc.

Books, Inc.'s "Care of Magical Creatures" class, where kids made paper-bag puppets of creatures and characters from the books.

Photo booth where guests could take their own pictures or purchase a Polaroid.

Mysterious Galaxy Books in San Diego

Mysterious Galaxy's Samantha Wynns, Patrick Heffernan, and Michael Seidman provide excellent customer service ... on any other day.

"Mysterious Galaxy's event, the brainchild of young adult program coordinator Samantha Wynns, consisted of elaborate decorations and refreshments (Butter Beer and Polyjuice Potion, for example), Harry Potter quizzes (O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s), face painting (the Dark Mark was a particular favorite), costume contests (students and adults) Divination 101 (tarot cards), and the ever-popular Sorting Hat. Approximately 150 people (mostly families) attended from its start at 10:00 p.m. until 12:01 a.m. and beyond ... or at least until they got their books. Then it was off to their beds ... to sleep, perchance to read. Mysterious Galaxy sold 125 copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in the first two hours." --Patrick Heffernan, Mysterious Galaxy Books

Administering the Harry Potter Quiz.

Eager fans waiting outside the store.

McNally Robinson Booksellers in New York City

"Even the most blase denizens of Manhattan's stylish Soho neighborhood took notice as a countdown to midnight could be heard for blocks around McNally Robinson Booksellers in NYC. The party was designated for adults since, in addition to the magicians, fortunetellers, and body artists, the store served 'magic punch,' a popular item served only to those who could prove they were 21. Costumes had been recommended, but not required. With copies of the book as prizes, best costume awards were given to one uncanny Harry look-a-like; one Rita Skeeter, complete with green feather ruffles and her handy quick quotes pen; and five black-robed Death Eaters with Phantom of the Opera-type masks, customized to look eerily like skulls. Summing up the experience, an attendee, Madelyn Freed, commented that while waiting on the line outside the store, 'some people were making fun of us as they passed by, but we didn't care -- this was one night that the dorks ruled.'" --Nomi Schwartz, Bookselling This Week Photos: Sarah Ryan

The "over 21" crowd at McNally Robinson.

Mingling inside the packed store.

Village Bookstore in Pleasantville, New York

The four staff members of Pleasantville, New York's 1,000-square-foot Village Bookstore were joined by ABA Education Director Len Vlahos and fellow ABAers Scott and Margaret Nafz, who volunteered their services for the Friday night event. The store, which had preorders for 250 copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, stayed open until all customers were served. "It was a heap of fun," said Vlahos.

HP fans at Village Bookstore.

It was standing-room-only as midnight approached.

Second Story Book Shop in Chappaqua, New York Project Manager Patti Neske and ABA Associate Director of Programming Kristen Gilligan volunteered at Second Story Book Shop in Chappaqua, New York, where approximately 60 people were in attendance, with many in costume. Second Story held a Harry Potter trivia contest with prizes. The main prize was a 'go to the front of the line' pass. Attendees could sit in a chair and try on the Sorting Hat, and enjoy Harry Potter-themed refreshments, as the crowd counted down to midnight. Photos: Patti Neske

After midnight at Second Story.

HP-themed desserts.

Books on the Common in Ridgefield, Connecticut

"We had at least 250 people at the party, although more showed up at midnight -- we had to cap the party attendance early in the week, because we were already at capacity.  Guests made (pretzel) wands and Golden Snitches, had their faces painted, and pinned the tail on Dudley Dursley. Kids raced to complete HP-themed crosswords (O.W.L. and N.E.W.T. levels, to allow a wider range of participation), guessed the number of Bertie Bott's Every-Flavor Beans, and competed in a trivia contest, with a deluxe edition of Deathly Hallows as the grand prize. A magician kept everyone's attention for the last half-hour, and everyone had their books by 12:15 a.m." --Sarah Rettger, ABA Marketing Coordinator and Part-time Bookseller

Store owners Ellen Burns and Darwin Ellis checking in party guests and handing out glow-in-the-dark necklaces.

Store employees displaying the HP7 photo cake and other Honeydukes goodies.

For a related story about Potter events filed by ABA staff volunteers read "On the Front Lines of Potter Midnight Magic" in this week's edition. And for a very cool video of Anderson's Bookshops' transformation of Naperville, Illinois, for the "Party That Shall Not Be Named," visit the Chicago Sun-Times website.