July 21, 2007
The kids and adults arrived at Border’s in Los Gatos well before the 9:30pm start time last night so that they could get their colored bracelets, identifying when they’d be permitted to line up to purchase their books. It was a lot like the system Southwest Airlines uses to let you know when to board. First it was the orange banded folks, then the silver, and finally the blue.
Our daughter, Clair, was at the bookstore for many hours and made quite a few new friends among the enthusiastic fans. (It was impressed on me that this event was historic, as it is to be the final book in the series.) The rest of us arrived at 11:45pm, thinking we’d catch the tail end of it. We were there until 1:30am or so! Even with color coding, it was at least 90 minutes worth of waiting past midnight for some folks. No one seemed to mind. The crowd was cheerful and chatty.
I’m better at identifying the square footage of a house by sight than I am the size of the crowd. There were a lot of people. This made holiday shopping lines look easy. It was more reminiscent of the patient anticipation for one of the better rides at Disneyland. One child emerged with the hardbound copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and exclaimed that it was the best day of his life. No lack of enthusiasm there!
We saw folks we know (some reunions) and met a lot of others. An amazing amount of people came in costume. It was when I saw the Death Eater (sorry, didn’t catch her name!) that I wished I’d brought my “real” camera. The whole event was much bigger than I had anticipated. Luckily my Treo 700p takes fairly decent pics so I did what I could do given the late hour and lack of sunlight outdoors.
Another great costume was worn by John Eichinger, who came as a great wizard, I believe he was Dumbledore. Asked if he’d gotten his copy of the new tome yet, he replied “I’m not getting a copy. I’ll read it when my daughters are through.” Ah, same in our house!
In addition to costume-viewing, there was just a lot of friendly converstation with other town residents to pass the time. I had the pleasure of chatting with a warm and interesting woman named Ellie who said she believed she was the oldest person at the event. She was close to my father’s age and I believe she was right – I would dub her most spunky senior citizen!
Meanwhile, my husband, Jim (nature lover and volunteer parks commissioner for the Town of Los Gatos) had his own ideas about how to pass the time. Spotting what Ellie identified as a June bug (a huge thing that looks like a cockroach that was blown up magically into something enormous – very Harry Potter-esque) and decided to put it on his pantleg. The insect was fine with it but eventually walked up to Jim’s shoulder. Hitting skin was another thing entirely and the hitchhiking bug was eventually placed on the large oak tree in front of the California Cafe. I like nature too, but not that close, so I was glad to see it scamper up the tree and out of Jim’s friendly reach.
Once the line wove into the old building, things seemed to move very quickly. The salespeople behind the desk were as fast and cheerful as could be, particularly given the tremendously late hour.
As we left Old Town, parking places had opened up and the line had dwindled to 20% of its original size. Things were finally winding down. I don’t know what time the last customers were sold their books. I do know that some who weren’t aware of the need for color wrist bands (folks who reserved before July 8th weren’t told) were lingering as they were disappointed to learn that they were “wait listed” to get the book. Some of our son’s old classmates from St. Mary’s Elementary School were in that boat. I hope they got their books – they waited until the very end in hopes of getting them.
To see more photos, please visit today’s article covering this event on
The Los Gatos Observer.