07/17/05 — Harry Potter fever strikes in Goldsboro

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Harry Potter fever strikes in Goldsboro

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on July 17, 2005 2:04 AM

Magical mandrakes couldn't have outscreamed the crowd of Harry Potter fans Friday as they eagerly awaited the release of the young wizard's latest adventures.

At midnight, bookstores across the country began selling "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince." It's the sixth installment in the J.K. Rowling's series on the young English wizard and his battle against the evil Lord Voldemort.

The countdown began at 11:30 at the Books-A-Million store on Berkeley Boulevard, as Harry Potter look-a-likes, wizards and other costumed creatures filled the store.

The crowd of close to 200 counted out the last 10 seconds, as if awaiting the new year.

"Woo, woo, woo," yelled one boy, as the books were brought to the front of the store.

Store employees rolled the books down the aisle at 12:01. Because of the secrecy surrounding the sale, the books were still in boxes, with protective shrink wrap around them.

Purple and green balloons floated through the store, as the employees prepared to serve up the magic of Harry Potter.

The events began at 9 p.m., with face-painting, games and crafts. Kids stretched out on the floor working on the "wizard's word find, the sorcerer's scramble, and the cauldron of crosswords."

Besides a sea of caped wizards with pointed hats, there were also a number of kids dressed like the young wizard.

Store employee Anglia Phonchanh kept busy painting lightening bolts, brooms, and the snitch, on the faces of the fans.

Seven-year-old Stephanie Schappell won the costume contest as the best "Hermione."

But Stephanie said her favorite character in the book was Harry.

Kayla Flanagan, Natalie Bryan and Jessica Larson, dressed as the Weasley brothers. Natalie and Jessica were the twins, George and Fred.

"We came as the twins," Natalie began.

"Because we finish each other sentences," Jessica said.

Sharon Alwar brought her kids to get the book, but said she couldn't wait for them to finish so she could read them.

Cristian Lares, 13, said that the Harry Potter books "take you to another place."

Taylor King, 12, said she would probably stay up to read the book.

"I'll be done just like that, she said, snapping her fingers.

Twelve-year-old Lauren Gooding said that she liked reading the "Goblet of Fire" the best, so far.

"I felt like I was actually there at the tournament," she said.

No one knew who the half-blood prince was, but a few people offered their theories.

AnneScott Draughon, 10, and Natalie Bryan, 14, said they thought it might be Harry.

Lauren Gooding said it could be Harry, or Voldemort.

"Voldemort, maybe, because he had a muggle (non-magical) father," Lauren said.

Natalie said that she believed that Harry might be related somehow to Voldemort.

Once midnight finally arrived, the fans snatched up their books and disappeared like magic into the night.