One Magical Night

Ben Wolford

Thousands flock to celebrate the last

Jacob Koehler,9, and his mother stop to talk to a videographer outside of Blue Heron Bookstore. Jacob received a free book after winning second place in an artistic renovation. LESLEY KATZENMEYER | SUMMER KENT STATER

Credit: DKS Editors

Besides any dragon sightings or pixie swarms, downtown Hudson could have easily been mistaken for a block party at Hogwarts on Friday and early Saturday morning.

Thousands of Harry Potter fans gathered for “Harry Potter – The Last Extravaganza” celebrating the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh and final book in the series by J.K. Rowling.

“The Last Extravaganza” was the brainchild of Liz Murphy, owner of The Learned Owl Book Shop, which was nicknamed Flourish & Blotts for the evening. As big as the event was expected to be, “it’s bigger,” she said of the final outcome.

But Murphy must have expected a little attention when she ordered 17,000 copies of the latest book. Still, with the costumes, news vans and jam-packed sidewalks, no one could have anticipated such excitement.

With that said, 1,474 copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows were reserved and picked up at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.

After the sales began, young Muggles likely fought off sleep as they poured over the last 750 pages of the popular wizard’s final journeys.

But those who didn’t preorder the book from The Learned Owl also took part in the activities downtown.

Eight-year-old Colin Palma, who had his dad order the latest Harry Potter book at, said he had fun playing Quidditch – which, in the book, is a popular ball game featuring flying broomsticks. The flying broomsticks couldn’t quite be arranged, so the children were forced to stay grounded and throw volleyballs through hula hoops.

Palma was excited about the final book.

“My dad read all of them to me, but I read the first one,” he said.

And Quidditch wasn’t the only attraction.

More than 65 local businesses took part in “The Last Extravaganza,” adding new storefront signs to take on Potter-ized names.

The Grey Colt clothing store became “Madame Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions and Wand Making.” Country Blues Classic Clothing became “Muggle Garb.” The Reserve Inn Restaurant & Lounge became “Platform Nine and Three Quarters.”

At 2 p.m. on Friday there was a scavenger hunt at Diagon Alley Realty One. A snake and spider show came to the Hudson Library, courtesy of the Akron Zoo. At 9:55 p.m. the Hudson High School Drum Line led a parade of wizards, witches, Dementors, professors and Death Eaters through back roads near Main Street.

Though “The Last Extravaganza” was Murphy’s idea, she said there was a committee of volunteers that organized all of the events.

“Community members and high school students helped to put all of this together,” she said.

Murphy will donate 10 percent of the proceeds from book presales to First Book of Greater Akron, a national nonprofit literacy organization.

Contact features correspodent Ben Wolford at [email protected].