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Harry Potter’s magic persists

Rita Skeeter leads the eagar fans in Harry Potter trivia.
Photo: Alec Witthohn · The Sentry

Tattered Cover celebrates 20 years of series

Excited gaggles of girls in full robes, cosplayers, and one dad who hadn’t bothered to dress up except for a lightening scar he’d etched on his forehead in red marker all gathered at Denver’s Tattered Cover bookstore for Harry Potter: 20 Years of Magic, a celebration of the world and stories created by bestselling author J.K. Rowling.

Although Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the first of the Potter adventures, was released in 1997, the books and movies continue to attract audiences of all ages. Throughout the night, eager witches and  wizards descended on the bookstore on Colfax. The event, held on July 28, was reminiscent of the midnight book release parties popular  in the last decade.

Kristen Gilligan, co-owner of Tattered Cover, organized the celebration. She explained how the idea for a 20th anniversary party came to be. “My husband and I worked in the book industry for many, many years. We worked in the trade association for independent bookstores across the country, so we were very aware of all the Harry Potter parties, the midnight release parties, and when we bought the bookstore three years ago, we were so excited that we could actually do our own.” She explained how the store is perfect for an event like this as it shares a likeness to the iconic wizarding bookstore Flourish and Blotts. 

A labyrinth of locations was scattered around the premises, marked by decorative cardboard set pieces: the cafe had been renovated into Honeydukes, and a table called the Wizard’s Chest handed out maps and gift boxes complete with commemorative pins and stickers. “We have two young boys,” Kristen said, “one of whom loves Harry Potter, and he just turned 10 and had a Harry Potter party, so all these decorations that you see were made for his party.” 

The focus of the event took place downstairs where a charismatic, witchy journalist, Rita Skeeter, conducted a Harry Potter themed Jeopardy game. In History of Magic with Rita Skeeter, three contestants squared off, testing their fan knowledge as they answered trivia questions. Chairs were set up as well as a photo booth where visitors could take a picture in front of the Whomping Willow while holding up a facade of Arthur Weasley’s flying car. Other events included Transfiguration (face painting), Wizard’s Chess, and a Sorting Hat ceremony in which visitors could try on a prop hat and spin a colored wheel to determine which house they belonged.

As Ms. Gilligan eloquently pointed out, “Harry Potter is a publishing phenomenon because no matter what age you are, and as you grow up with the books, outgrow the books, you somehow are still a fan and want to be part of this world.”

Indeed, it seems these stories have taken on a life of their own beyond their original audience. With 1,000 people in attendance, the Tattered Cover’s celebration stands as testament to the enduring power of great storytelling.

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