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Midnight Release Party Summons Muggles For Eighth Harry Potter Installment


It was literally a dark and stormy night here in Washington, D.C., last night, an appropriate backdrop for the crowds of eager readers in wizard robes. They packed a local bookstore for something no one thought would ever happen again, a midnight "Harry Potter" book release party. NPR's Petra Mayer, who doesn't like to admit she's probably a Hufflepuff, was there.

PETRA MAYER, BYLINE: There are a lot of people in costumes here tonight, but Erica Murray stands out.

ERICA MURRAY: I am dressed up as (imitating British accent) Moaning Myrtle.

MAYER: She's the ghost who haunts a Hogwarts bathroom, so Erica is sporting a toilet seat around her neck.

MURRAY: So I have a toilet over my head to dress up as her (laughter). It's kind of uncomfortable, but it makes the outfit.

MAYER: It's almost midnight. Erica and her fellow "Harry Potter" fans are crammed into D.C.'s Kramer Books, packing the aisles and lining up out the door, all waiting for the minute that "Harry Potter And The Cursed Child" will go on sale. It's the eighth installment of Harry's adventures, though it's not an actual novel. Instead, it's the script of a play that just premiered in London. There are activities while we wait for the magic moment - coloring, quizzes, homemade Marauder's Maps, and Erica is sipping a definitely-not-for-kids butterbeer.

MURRAY: They're making them strong (laughter).

MAYER: And that's fine 'cause there are barely any kids here. I've spotted a few in the crush, but this is a pretty grown-up crowd. And they all grew up with "Harry Potter."

JALEESA JOHNSON: I'm not sure how old I was. I was in the fourth grade. It was, like, the first book that I really enjoyed.

MAYER: Outside, Jaleesa Johnson is way back at the end of the line.

JOHNSON: We're around the block (laughter). Kramer's Books is, like, in the middle of the block. We're around the block.

MAYER: It's Jaleesa's first time at a midnight release party. As a kid, she wasn't allowed out, and her parents didn't want to stand in line. I asked her how she felt about the new book.

JOHNSON: I didn't read any, like, articles that gave synopsis or anything. I wanted to be surprised. So I don't know what to think right now.

MAYER: Back inside, Mariah Carray...

MARIAH CARRAY: I know. It's not the singer.

MAYER: ...Says she loved the book so much, she was angry at actor Emma Watson as a kid because she was convinced that she could be a better Hermione. Mariah's excited for the new book but a little scared.

CARRAY: What if it doesn't live up to my expectations or to the rest of "Harry Potter?"

MAYER: Finally, the moment arrived.

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Chanting) Eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. (Cheering).

SAMANTHA ZENLEA: I don't cry at movies. I didn't cry when Hillary Clinton got nominated, but I burst into tears at midnight.

MAYER: That's Samantha Zenlea. She and Debbie Kobrin and two of their friends are clustered on the sidewalk with their brand-new books in hand. Samantha says she's going to try to stay awake and read.

ZENLEA: But I am not in high school anymore. So I'm...

DEBBIE KOBRIN: You can do it.


ZENLEA: She's been trying to encourage me to read it all night.

KOBRIN: You can do it.



MAYER: Petra Mayer, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Petra Mayer died on November 13, 2021. She has been remembered by friends and colleagues, including all of us at NPR. The Petra Mayer Memorial Fund for Internships has been created in her honor.