The Muggles out in force for ‘Harry Potter’ tome at Moravian Book Shop
One dark and rainy night, the streets of downtown Bethlehem were crawling with all sorts of witches and wizards and magicians. Their destination was the Moravian Book Shop along Main Street, where at one minute after midnight July 31, long-anticipated and tightly kept secrets about their hero Harry Potter would be unwrapped.
There were rumors about an eighth book after nine years that would reveal new threats to Potter and his family, but even the dementors hadn’t been able to frighten the faithful Moravian guardians into opening the boxes where the secrets were being kept until the appointed time for the “Harry Potter Midnight Book Release Party.”
Despite rumors that You-Know-Who is a fictional character and the central antagonist (“He Who Cannot Be Named”) might be in the bookstore in disguise, the nearly 250 fantasy-seekers managed to escape the Muggle world and, while they waited not so patiently for midnight, to enjoy a couple of hours of merriment in a mini-version of Diagon Alley.
There was Gringotts, where there was a chance to win a handmade Harry Potter House Scarf, or Tonk’s Transformation Station, providing face-painting disguises. At Olivanders, wizards young and old could make their very own magic wands, and there were crafts and coloring distractions at the Leaky Cauldron.
By far the most popular attraction, however, was Eeylop’s Owl Emporium. Here a long line of Wizardry World members checked out a couple of possible owl mail carriers that were being handled by Rachel Spagnola, educational specialist, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary (No one suspected that she was a Muggle.) Another fact also seemed to elude the wizards. Unlike Harry Potter’s faithful companion Hedwig, a snowy white purchased by Hagrid from the “real” Eeylops Owl Emporium as Harry’s 11th birthday gift, the Hawk Mountain owls don’t work during the day. They are nocturnal.
As the night grew darker outside, and both hands on the clock on the wall inside moved closer and closer together near the number 12, the tension and apprehension could be felt throughout the store. Hogwarts faculty members were keeping a sharp eye out for anyone trying to unwrap the secrets too early.
Another distraction was called for: the costume parade to let wizards compete to see who was wearing the best finery. First, the children, totaling the lucky number 13, walked one-by-one up to the top of a few steps, introduced themselves, and then spun around to loud applause. Only one could be the winner, and she was 13-year-old Avalon Dewey of Bethlehem, a Nitschmann Middle School student.
Surprisingly, Avalon’s impersonation of Professor Trelawney didn’t seem to upset the other Hogwarts faculty. Instead, she was rewarded with a Harry Potter activity chest and a brand new wand.
The adult costume winner, Jordan Hardiman of Allentown, clearly impersonated a Hufflepuff student from Hogwarts. Can you imagine? Things were really getting out of hand. Thank goodness it was almost midnight.
At the appointed time, the guardians ripped off the seals from their boxes to reveal hard-bound copies of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,’ the eighth in a series of stories about the boy who escaped the wrath of Lord Valdemort and lived to vanquish the evil nemesis. Three-hundred copies of the book were gone in minutes.
A quick read of the plot reveals that it is now 19 years since the events in the seventh book, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” and the secrets involve what is happening to Harry, now an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic and father of three. For sticklers of detail, “Cursed Child” is the eighth book, but not a novel. It is the rehearsal script of a two-part play based on a story by Harry Potter’s creator J. K. Rowling, in collaboration with John Tiffany and Jack Thorne.
The new book and play are birthday presents for Harry and Rowling, who not coincidentally were both born July 31. It was also not coincidental that most of the Potter books and films since their introduction in 1997 have been released in July. The Harry Potter play by Jack Thorne premiered in London’s West End the day before the book’s release.
American Potter fans will have to wait awhile for the play to cross the Atlantic, but the good news is that could be as soon as next year. The bad news is that Rowlings says this is definitely the end of the series. In her own words, “Harry Potter is done now.”