/ Illustration by Pablo Lobato (The New York Times)
On Sat. July 30, Barnes & Noble Sunland Park will host the Harry Potter Countdown to Midnight Party, celebrating the release of the highly anticipated “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two” on the eve of the beloved wizard’s birthday.
“‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ gives fans a look at the future of beloved characters, [which is] something all Potter fans have been dying to have,” said Barnes & Noble Digital Sales lead Francesca Moore.
The book, by J.K. Rowling and collaborators Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, is not another novel in the popular series but rather the rehearsal script of the eponymous play opening July 30 in London’s West End. The production will be shown in two parts, and theatergoers can purchase tickets for either one or both of the segments.
Barnes & Noble, which is known for its fan events, has offered an opportunity for local Harry Potter fans to connect without having to cross the Atlantic or shell out for theater tickets. The store has been gearing up for the upcoming event since the Relive the Magic kickoff on June 24.
“There were activities and trivia. The event attracted a variety of fans – small children to adults,” Moore said. “Many came in Hogwarts garb, and the trivia was a swarm of well-informed wizards, young and old.”
The release party will feature several giveaways, including a drawing for seven limited-edition Barnes & Noble exclusive Harry Potter cover prints, and a special “Muggle Wall” where customers can share their favorite Harry Potter memories. On Sun.July 31, fans can reconvene at the store to discuss the script and take part in more themed activities.
Crysti Couture, social and multimedia coordinator for Visit El Paso, is looking forward to the release party. Her interest in the series comes from a deep connection she had with the stories’ characters at an early age.
“I grew up in [residential treatment centers] and foster care, and reading helped me get into another world,” she said. “For me, reading was a way to escape the realities of being in the situations I was in.”
Couture said she became vested in Harry Potter’s world while reading “The Chamber of Secrets,” the second book in the series.
“I found a lot of similarities in his life and mine, such as being mistreated by your own family, and being denied simple pleasures by them,” she said. “Yet, he flourished on his own, created a network of friends and teachers that became his family.”
Couture has reread the series only once, but is now passing the torch to her 11 year-old son, who recently started reading the books. She may take him to the event, Couture said, but that’s where she draws the line.
“I’m getting him interested little by little,” she said. “He’s not allowed to watch the movies until he’s read the books first.”
Moore is expecting the book release to be successful, if previous events are any indication.
“Even though there was no new book yet [at the June 24 kickoff event], everyone was really enjoying looking back at the old books and reliving those emotions,” she said. “It was a fun night with lots of excitement, and I am sure the upcoming release party will be even more fun and magical.”