Back in 2005, I bought Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince at Changing Hands. I opted for the Mill Avenue Borders release party when Deathly Hallows was published a couple years later.
I don’t remember many details about either event, but I don’t recall beer being served.
Tonight, on the other hand, the release party I attended for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child started at a brewery. Let there be no doubt the Harry Potter generation has entered adulthood: Anyone peeking into Tin Whiskers brewery in St. Paul, Minnesota, would have seen a few dozen 20- and 30-somethings in Potter-themed shirts and costumes mingling in the crowd.
Even brewery-goers who weren’t there for the release party seemed to enjoy this. I sat down next to a younger woman dressed as Dobby and watched as another bar patron, a woman probably in her 40s or 50s, approached her, excited about her costume and wondering why her own daughter wasn’t at the bar for this. Even better: That second woman’s significant other had a big grin on his face as he kept interjecting facts about Potter characters into the conversation.
The night officially started with a Harry Potter costume contest, as voted on by the brewery patrons. First prize went to Professor Sybill Trelawny, who stayed in character as she offered to read tea leaves for several bar-goers. Second prize went to Dobby, and in third place was Katie, a witch who was trying to fit in as a Muggle.
We all trekked a few blocks to SubText Books when the brewery closed at 11 p.m. About 50 people ended up milling around the small bookstore, browsing the shelves, eating cake in honor of Harry’s birthday, chatting with fellow Potter fans and waiting for book distribution to start promptly at 12:01 a.m.
I admit, the lead-up to this Potter release felt different for me than the previous ones. I was a faithful Pottercast and Mugglecast listener before the last two books came out. Since everyone was theorizing together without anyone having had a chance to read the story beforehand, I was eager to hear fan predictions. This time around, while people by and large have been amazingly good about following J.K. Rowling’s plea to #KeepTheSecrets while Cursed Child was in previews, I’ve deliberately stayed away from fan discussions for fear I’d have any tidbits spoiled before getting my hands on the script. (I did inadvertently read a couple small spoilers.)
Instead, I reread Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows to gear myself up for the release. As I got lost in this wonderful world J.K. Rowling created, I got more and more excited to read the next installment, and specifically read about Harry as an adult.
Because it’s not just Harry who’s grown up – we have, too. I first got to know the teenage Harry when I was in high school and college, watched as he dealt with both typical teen drama at the same time I was plus horrors I’d never faced. Now that I’m in my early 30s, I’m curious to know how he’s handling work and parenthood – and whatever crisis is currently rocking the wizarding world, of course. After growing up with Harry, Hermione, Ron, Ginny, Luna and Neville, it feels far too long since I’ve checked in on these old friends’ lives.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a script to read.