A Whole Pot(ter) of Coffee

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Cultural Corner

How A Saturday Night Quest for a Cup of Coffee Rendered a Whole Pot(ter) Instead

By Angela Shaw

Like two lost grown-ups, we searched for a coffee nightcap. The problem being that it was past the hour of nine pm, and in our town–except for one very crowded Starbucks, ill-conducive to conversation–few coffee bars are open ‘late.’ Not even on a Saturday night.

So, off to Barnes and Noble we drove, knowing a decent cup could be found well into the wee hours of ten pm. Noticing an unusually overcrowded parking lot, I thought, Well, at least we aren’t the only crazies out looking for caffeine after eight!

But there was more going on there than lattes and blonde brownies. My first clue was when a robed and hooded little person exited the double doors of the bookstore. Then beyond the grinning youngster, through the windows, I saw a sea of heads, stirring and percolating throughout the store. Music and voices leaked through the door cracks.

I smelled a party!

My suspicions were confirmed when we got inside. The place was jammed with kids and adults alike–dressed in round glasses, pointed hats–and all wearing neon wristbands. What was up?

Well, Alohomora! As mere muggles, we had stumbled upon the launch party of the long-awaited new Harry Potter book! After seven years of wizardry famine, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was just a few hours away from being released!

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The place was abuzz with broomsticks, spectacles and capes. The cafe was filled to the rim; surface tension threatening a big spill of J.K. Rowling fans who were biding their time over coffee until the midnight book distribution!

I checked in with Dana Meve, Barnes and Noble’s Community Relations Manager and asked her what the evening held. She said there were wand and Pygmy Puff-making activities, Hogwart’s House Sorting Quizes and Potter trivia games–a charmed evening for all! She also said that these mid-night parties had been regular book-release events since the late 90s. “Some people come early, purchase their book, get a wristband and return at 12am.” But, I learned that most Hogwartaphiles hang around all night and responsibly enjoy the magic.

My next question was met with raised eyebrows and secretive looks. “How will the books be distributed?” I asked.

The employees’ faces darkened and in hushed tones they said, “Oh, we can’t tell!” and “It’s a secret!” and “It’ll be magic!” and “You’ll have to wait till the bewitching hour to find out!”

What’s an interviewer to do? I abandoned my macchiato and my husband and started photographing Harrys, Hermiones and hippogriffs that were meandering through the maze of bookshelves.

A Harry look-alike, for sure!
A Harry look-alike, for sure!

A Harry look-alike, for sure!

Fans were making wands, while other serious Potter-nerds were preparing for a mean game of trivia!

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This House sorting activity produced a long line of folks waiting to experience the famous quiz.

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Hogwart’s House Sorting Quiz

With this cauldron of delights, it was no wonder that people eagerly lingered more than three hours to summon the newest book from their favorite series.

I didn’t stay to find out how the volumes were delivered; whether it was on the back of a hippogriff, or by some strange antic of Bellatrix Lestrange or on the Hogwart’s Express. But whatever the method, I’m sure the Potter-fans were pleased — as were my husband and I when we found not just a cup of coffee on a Saturday night, but a whole Pot (ter) full!

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