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Memorial Hall is jumping at midnight for Harry Potter

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TOWNSEND — The Harry Potter series is considered by many as a phenomenon. With its ability both to break sales records, and to fill Memorial Hall at midnight with costume-wearing and trivia-answering fans, it’s hard to disagree.

According to U.S. publisher Scholastic, the final book in the Harry Potter series, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” sold an estimated 8.3 million copies in its first 24 hours of sale.

The massive nationwide demand for the book made it nearly impossible to simply purchase a copy when it was first released, as Friday turned into Saturday. At larger bookstores, fans had to wait in line for hours to get a copy of author J.K. Rowling’s final piece in the Harry Potter puzzle.

As a service to residents, the Friends of the Townsend Library offered a chance to celebrate and purchase the final installment of the Harry Potter series last Friday, without having to deal with long lines of people. The lower floor of Memorial Hall was packed with fans and family for the event.

“I think we have enough for town meeting,” one parent joked.

The space opened up some when Library Director Heidi Fowler directed a Harry Potter costume contest for dozens of kids, and later a trivia game. Some parents watched while others took the opportunity to relax.

Michelle Kurmas drowsed in the corner of the room as her daughter, Colleen, 15, played in the trivia contest.

“Last time she bought the book from Barnes & Noble,” said Kurmas. “I had spent my entire night in line. It was a quarter to one by the time I got my book.”

Kurmas said she was glad that the library offered the event.

“This is the biggest crowd I’ve seen for anything the library’s done, and I think it’s great,” said Kurmas.

Some in the crowd waited patiently to purchase the book for someone else, like Meisner James, who was buying copies for his grandkids.

Linda and Dave Mafera waited with their son, Zack, 13, as their other son Matt, 10, talked about Harry Potter with other kids. More than being fans of the Harry Potter series, the Maferas were fans of watching Matt become excited about reading.

One 23-year-old woman said, “My little brother got me hooked, but I don’t want to be in the paper as saying that.”

When asked if she could be quoted anonymously, she agreed, explaining that she was afraid her friends would tease her for being so drawn to a children’s book.

Brian Mohan, 65, said he was hooked on the series ever since his wife, an elementary school teacher, brought the first book home.

“I’m a slow reader, so I probably won’t finish it until Monday,” said Mohan.

Sean Morrissey, 17, said it wasn’t just the popularity that drew him to the series. It was also curiosity.

“I knew a lot of kids who thought it was evil,” said Morrissey. “I wanted to see if they were right.”

By 12:30 a.m., the event began to wind down. Out of 85 preordered books, 63 copies were picked up.

Fowler said she was very pleased with the turnout, although she is now left wondering when another book will come along to attract as much attention.