Excitement over new Harry Potter book's release swept European bases, too
Stars and Stripes June 22, 2003
WIESBADEN, Germany — Perhaps it was only fitting that a career librarian would lead a midnight charge to checkout the latest book chronicling the magical life of Harry Potter and his pals at Hogwarts.
“I called a couple of times this week to get all the details,” Mary Deheck said as she stood at the head of a line that stretched from counter to street curb.
At midnight on the longest day of the year, Deheck and scores of other Americans stood in line at the Hainerberg Shopping Center in Wiesbaden to buy a copy of “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.” The 870-page book is the fifth in a series by Scottish author J.K. Rowling.
Wiesbaden wasn’t alone.
Other U.S. military installations in Europe kept their bookstores open past midnight so patrons could be among the first to devour the latest installment.
“I’m going to go home, sit down and read about 100 pages of it,” Marcus Berartez, a 32-year-old auto mechanic, said as he walked away from the cash register with one of the treasured tomes.
In Wiesbaden, the newly renovated BookMark in the Hainerberg Shopping Center hosted a Potter-a-thon. Harry Potter movies played on the television screen, store employees drifted about in black witches’ costumes and children took part in a special raffle.
But for many who defied the witching hour on such an auspicious night, the real prize was to get their hands on the coveted book. By the time the door closed at 2 a.m., slightly more than 200 of the 300 books in stock had been sold.
“Harry Potter is so interesting,” said 12-year-old Nathan Martin of Wiesbaden. “It’s, it’s mysterious. You never know what will happen next.”
Allister “Woody” Humphrey came prepared. She sported a black robe bearing the Gryffindor emblem. The 8-year-old also owns a scarf, sweater, lantern, wand and other Harry Potter memorabilia.
“I’ve read all four books twice,” she proudly said.
Woody’s parents sure went the extra mile — and then some — to ensure their daughter stays current on the trials and triumphs at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Sgt. 1st Class Steve Humphrey and his wife, Connie, drove from Bamberg to Wiesbaden, which is well over a three hours’ drive away.
As soon as they paid their $19.50, the discounted price offered by the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, the Humphreys headed home. Friends from the States were arriving later in the day.
“I’m driving,” Steve Humphrey said before nodding in the direction of his wife. “She’s reading.”
But their daughter’s eyes rolled when mom had the audacity to say that she and her husband were bigger Potter fans than their daughter is.
“When I read [Harry Potter] I’m just off in another land,” Woody said.
Over the next few weeks, some parents may notice that it’s quieter around the house as their children fall under the spell cast by Harry Potter.