RAMBLINGS: God for Harry, England and St. George!

Harry, the boy wizard with the round glasses and the lightning-bolt scar, has once again disrupted our quiet Village.

It wasn't as if it had been unexpected. We've had warnings for months, nay, years that he was on his way again. Only those muggles who never turn on the electronic media or read a newspaper were surprised. Weeks before the release of the fifth book in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, June 21, posters went up around Magnolia that Magnolia's Bookstore would reopen at 11:30 Friday night especially for fans. When I talked to the bookstore's staff a few days before the event, they were expecting a crowd.

"It's going to be a fantastic event," promised Georgiana Blomberg, owner of Magnolia's Bookstore.

"There will be a magic show by the Amazing William before the 12:01 release time that includes an escape from a straight-jacket and other Wizardly-type magic. There will also be coupons for special free wizard cookies from the Upper Crust Bakery next door. They'll also be open at 11:30 p.m."

I asked if any of the books had arrived in Magnolia's Bookstore. "We've got boxes full in back, but they're being guarded by special Potter police," she said alluding to the East Coast bookstore that sold a few copies early before the release date.

With such an event about to happen in my own neighborhood, I felt it was my responsibility to witness this frenzy of youthful reading enthusiasm. I showed up early at 11, and there were already a few people milling around outside.

Young Tyler Ferguson, 7 1/2, appeared to be the first in line. He'd traveled here from Mount Baker and noted that, with his parents' help, he has read all the previous books. Tyler wanted to come to this bookstore because he'd heard about the magic show and that it was an independent bookstore. "I don't like the big crowds at the chain bookstores." The thing Tyler especially likes about the Potter series "is the adventure, the magic and the monsters."

Magnolia preschool teacher Jenny Hansen, also in the crowd, commented: "J. K. Rowling has written an epic experience for children of all ages. Anything that gets children this fired up to read is a phenomenal experience."

Also near the front of the line were Magnolia residents Kristina Muramoto, 15, and her parents, Lynn and Tom. Both Kristina and Lynn were buying their own copies of the new book, and each has read all of the previous novels. They both expected to finish the tome by the end of the week.

Some children showed up half-asleep in pajamas and a few even wore Harry Potter costumes. Sitting atop his father Marvin's shoulders was Magnolia resident Michael Land, 9 1/2, resplendent in a wizard's cape, Harry Potter wig and those signature round glasses. Michael has read all of the previous books three times.

Michael is also quite a collector of Harry Potter, according to his mother, Michaelanne. Besides the books, Michael has the items he was wearing, as well as trading cards, a trivia game, a puppet, action figures, videos of both Harry Potter movies, tapes and a copy of the fourth book, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," autographed by J. K. Rowling.

"Merchandising is not lost on us," says Michaelanne.

Marvin looked at his watch and com-mented, "We just returned from an Anchorage vacation minutes ago; this time of the year it's still light up there at this time."

Half an hour before the book went on sale, the crowd outside the book-store had swelled to an estimated 50 people. A Seattle police car parked across the street, but after about 15 minutes, the officer decided that this wasn't the type of crowd that was going to rush the door or do anything else unruly so he moved on to where he was needed more on a Friday night.

Magnolia residents Joan and Don Caine came down to the Village just to be part of "the happening."

"Our children are long grown and gone,"

Joan told me. "We haven't yet read the books, although we do intend to read them in order. We saw the first movie." They brought another couple along with them who also have grown children, but they bought the book, too.

By the time this version of Harry's latest tale was beginning to be handed out, the crowd on the sidewalk had grown to an estimated 200 persons.

The bookstore had received 400 copies of "Order of the Phoenix" and, four days later, unlike some of the mega-bookstores, still had 22 unsold copies left. Those are probably gone by now, considering the steady rate at which the book was being sold.

Your friendly neighborhood independent bookstores are the solution to most of your reading desires.

Freelance writer Gary McDaniel is a Magnolia resident. His column appears in the News every other Wednesday. He can be reached at qanews@nwlink.com.[[In-content Ad]]