Scholastic Throws a Potter Party

Publisher Transforms SoHo Street to Celebrate Final Book

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Event: Harry Potter Place
Date: July 20, 2007
Marketer: Scholastic
Venue: Scholastic SoHo Store

After a decade of filling the imaginations of readers all over the world with Harry, Ron and Hermione, author J.K. Rowling has decided to bring her Harry Potter series to an end with the seventh book, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." Scholastic, the book's U.S. publisher, threw a block party July 20 for the young wizard and all his fans. Dressed as their favorite characters, the young and young at heart were treated to a slew of activities and surprises as they awaited the book's release at 12:01 a.m. at the Scholastic Store.
Fans of the J.K. Rowling series dress as their favorite characters.
Fans of the J.K. Rowling series dress as their favorite characters. Credit: Scholastic/Clark Jones

Muggles (people, such as this reporter, who don't have magical abilities) lined up in New York's trendy SoHo for a chance to the take a tour of the Knight Bus. The enchanted, purple triple-decker bus, which started its tour of libraries throughout the country in June, made its final stop on Broadway. People could make mini videos giving their predictions for the final book's ending, reasons they love the series or reviews of the most recent film, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix." All the videos recorded throughout the monthlong tour as well as on July 20 are posted on Scholastic's website.

Harry Potter Place
Mercer Street between Prince and Spring streets was transformed into Harry Potter Place, including Dumbledore's Pensieve, wizards teaching magic tricks and a wand-making station. The 20-foot Whomping Willow stood proudly at the center of the block party and greeted visitors with 27 swinging branches. Those who wanted to share their memories about the books -- including this reporter, a huge Harry Potter fan herself -- could write their comments on a large Muggle Board.
The Knight Bus
The Knight Bus Credit: Scholastic/Clark Jones

This wasn't the first time Billy DiMichele, Scholastic's director of corporate productions, has thrown a Harry Potter block party. The idea came about when "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" was released in 2005 and Mercer Street was transformed into Diagon Alley, the books' magical marketplace. With 12,000 Muggles walking through the imaginary Harry Potter world last week, Mr. DiMichele could not call the event anything but a success.

"I was thrilled," he said. "You sort of have an expectation, but how could this have happened? So many people came through here. The emotion I experienced, the emotion on Harry Potter Place, is something I haven't experienced in a long time. It was a great moment for this company. It's historic."

"I think it's fantastic," said Jennifer Medina, 29, who came to the party with her cousin, Jeremiah, 14. "It gives kids an opportunity, in a tech age, to read again."