‘Deathly Hallows’ casts a spell over Issaquah’s Harry Potter fans

July 14, 2011

By Tom Corrigan

Jamie (left) and Lauren Loudon dressed in 'Harry Potter' garb to await the opening of the final film in the series at midnight Friday. By Tom Corrigan

NEW — 7 p.m. July 14, 2011

“It’s the end of our childhood,” said Rebecca Solem, 18, one of about 50 or so Harry Potter fans lined up outside the Regal Issaquah Nine Theatre on Thursday.

With a fancy hat and a shawl, Solem was one of many who showed up in costume for the occasion, the release of the last film of the “Harry Potter” movie franchise.

Solem’s spot on the sidewalk outside the movie house also was occupied by several other characters from the books and films, most notably Albus Dumbledore complete with wizard robes and long, flowing beard.

At least a few of the costumed crowd had arrived as early 9 a.m. that morning to be among the first to see “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2.”

The movie starts playing at 12:01 a.m. Friday.

“We all grew up on ‘Harry Potter,’” Solem continued, by way of explaining her initial comment, with which her six or seven cohorts all agreed.

Solem noted the first “Potter” book was the first book she read on her own. Megan Winter, 18, said her father used to read her the first few books. Several others in the crowd quickly shook their heads in agreement, saying one parent or the other had initially hooked them on the tales of the young wizard.

On Thursday afternoon, there were lines on either side of the doorway to the Issaquah theater. At the head of the line opposite Solem and her group, a reporter’s question interrupts Janie Loudon, 17, reading a poem about older sister Lauren Loudon’s feelings for “Potter” character Ron Weasley, Harry’s buddy in both the books and films. Loudon, 20, doesn’t mind the poem or the attention.

“It’s embarrassing, but wonderful all at the same time,” she said.

Having arrived early that morning, the two sisters spent their day sitting under a sign that declared their spot in line as The Burrow, the home of the Weasley family.

Of the fans spoken with Thursday, many said they had waited in similar lines to see previous “Harry Potter” films. At least among these fans, no other movie franchise had elicited such loyalty, although several admitted they had queued up to see the most recent installment of the “Twilight” series when it came out last year. Again, at least among these fans, that movie’s vampires and werewolves aren’t in the same league as Potter and his wizardly crew. Several indicated lining up for the “Twilight” movie had proven a mistake, one they do not plan on making again.

Probably not surprisingly, Solem and her friends as well as the group with the Loudon sisters had all read all the “Potter” books. They also unanimously voiced the opinion the books are better than the films.

While the mood outside the theater was predictably light and fun, for these fans, the fact that “Deathly Hallows” marks the end of the “Harry Potter” films made Thursday’s event at least a little bittersweet.

“I’ll always wish there had been more,” Loudon admitted.

One of her compatriots didn’t totally agree.

“It left off nicely,” Kara Alden, 15, said of the Potter books. “I don’t know where it (the series) could go next.”

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