Getting Harry at midnight |

Getting Harry at midnight

Boxes of Harry Potter books sit Thursday at Explore Bookstore. (Jim Paussa/The Aspen Times)

ASPEN The seventh and final book of the wildly popular Harry Potter series is coming out tonight at the stroke of midnight, and fans of the spectacled character are in his spell. Everyone caught up in the story wants to know what happens in Potter’s final year at Hogwarts. Potter’s status is so high, in fact, that celebrations are taking place throughout the valley tonight to salute the final book. Basalt is throwing a major street fair in the run-up to midnight, and Snowmass will have a magic show, storytelling and a showing of the fourth movie before selling the coveted books. In Aspen, Explore Booksellers is gearing up for a party and has 350 copies stashed away in the back room.

Basalt begins the party at 8 p.m. at the Basalt Regional Library with prizes, a fortune teller and broom races. After prizes are awarded at 9:30, there will be a parade to Town Center Booksellers, which will host fire juggling, balloon animals and a costume party. Snowmass is kicking off this year’s Snowmagical Family Fun Fest with a Harry Potter-themed evening tonight. The first 150 kids get a magic wand when the festivities launch with a ventriloquist and magician at 7 p.m. on Fanny Hill. A storyteller will begin at 8 p.m. and “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” (the fourth in the series) screens at 9.”It will finish just prior to the time the bookstore will be open and rolling to sell the book,” said magician Doc Eason, organizer of the Fun Fest. “Snowmass Book Store will be Hogwarts central on Friday night.”

Aspen is a little less gung-ho, but with people pre-ordering more than 100 books from Explore, there will be more than a few celebrating the stroke of midnight with costumes, Cauldron Cakes and Butterbeer (seriously). Until that point, however, not even the bookstore owners can get their hands on a copy of author J.K. Rowling’s final Potter offering. “We are not opening the boxes until 11:59 tomorrow night,” said Lynda Schultz, general manager of Explore. “If you could see the contracts I had to sign. They’ll come and take my first-born child if I open these boxes. The penalties are very severe. Literally, we would lose the business.”

The hardcover commands the tidy price of $34.99, but for Potter maniacs, there is little to be done about such trifles. “This whole phenomenon is just that, a phenomenon,” said Eric Lodal, manager of Town Center Booksellers. “We’re expecting quite a big crowd.”Joel Stonington’s e-mail is

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