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July 22, 2005

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Publication Date: Friday, July 22, 2005

Muggles young and old stay up late for 'All Potter's Eve' Muggles young and old stay up late for 'All Potter's Eve' (July 22, 2005)

By Jenny Baer

"All Potter's Eve," declared by the mayor of Mountain View in a proclamation issued last week, was celebrated heartily July 15 at Books Inc. as fans dressed up and played games in eager anticipation of the midnight release of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince."

That night, the popular Castro Street bookstore filled with children and adults in and out of magical costumes. Excitement filled the air as young fans pranced around waving magic wands and casting spells such as "stupefy" and "jelly legs" upon one another.

When asked what his chopstick wand was made of, 9-year old James Stevens of Palo Alto answered, "probably griffin feather, raven's claw, horse hair and some dust of a unicorn's horn."

While Stevens says it will probably take him a year to finish reading "The Half-Blood Prince," his 6-year-old sister, Victoria, claims that she plans to complete the new book in just 10 minutes. "I'm a fast reader," she explained.

The younger of the Stevens siblings, who says she pretends to play the wizard game of Quidditch on her backyard swing set, giggled as she exclaimed that her favorite character is Hagrid because "he's so big and his umbrella made a pigtail on Harry Potter's brother's bottom!"

Shannon Geison, a student at St. Joseph's Catholic School who won third place in the costume contest for dressing up as Hermione (another main character in author J.K. Rowling's beloved series), says that the character of Professor McGonagall resembles her teachers at school because she is "nice but also strict at the same time."

Even an infant, Nathan Dodd of Mountain View, was dressed up in a purple wizard costume, complete with a pointed hat and a stuffed owl perched on the front of his stroller.

Activities hosted by the bookstore included a Harry Potter trivia game, with prizes of candy rats and Bernie Bott's Every Flavor Beans.

Store employees also judged the costume contest. Along with Geison, the winners were 13-year old Alexia Conrad, who dressed up in a blue witch's costume, and Rebecca Kuczynski and Irie Mclean, 10-year-old Mountain View friends who came as a pair of house elves.

By 11:30 on Friday night, Books Inc. had pre-sold 168 copies of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" for fans to pick up at the strictly enforced midnight deadline, according to manager Gary Sebastian. Those who had yet to purchase the $34.99 hardcover book formed a line sprawling out the door and down Dana Street. Sebastian later said the store had sold 450 copies as of the following Monday.

As midnight approached, and fans began cheering while boxes of books were brought out, excited 8-year-old Lou Rosen of Mountain View looked down at his watch and admitted, as had many other young fans, that he was out past his bedtime.

E-mail Jenny Baer at [email protected]

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