Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Harry Potter 7.2 Movie Release Party

Love him, hate him, or claim indifference, no doubt you've heard of him.  He's this generation's "Star Wars", but because of the controversy he insights and the world wide web / social media, Harry Potter exists on a much grander stage. Yet, at the heart of it all, without the fandom and aside from the scale of its popularity is the REASON Harry didn't go anywhere and probably won't for a long, long time.  Seven excellently crafted novels with a story line that spans generations and has woven itself forever into our hearts and minds.  When is the last time you've heard of people sleeping outside for a BOOK RELEASE!?!?  In my day I did that for Guns N' Roses, but was never excited enough about a book.  Everyone has an opinion on the boy who lived and so to those opposed I will just have to say skip this blog post as agree to disagree with me. 

The sign on the door greeting the guests as they arrived. (created by Sara G.)

The release of the final movie in the series was anticipated with mixed emotions in our house.  As much as we were looking foreword to seeing our favorite characters come to life on screen in some of their most thrilling moments of the series we were also dreading the end, which made us look back.  Our family's Harry Potter story doesn't really begin until 2002, about 5 years after the first book was published.  Before 2002 there was the controversy, and we heard it - tended to side with people from our church who were against these "horrible" novels without really knowing anything about them or researching for ourselves.  The narrow-minded reason being that our kids were still too young to be reading novels anyway, so it didn't really apply to us and was just easier to parrot beliefs than forming our own opinion.  Now, BACK to 2002 when Sarah was attending 4th grade on Whiteman AFB and Rob was about to leave on his first deployment to Kuwait.  At school most of Sarah's friends were reading the Harry Potter series and highly anticipating the release of the movie based on the 4th book and the release of the 5th book.  Still only forming our opinions based off of other pious attitudes we had not allowed Sarah to read the books, but she didn't seem to care at all and really had little to no interest in reading much of anything.  One day she came home and with a much smarter argument than I'd have thought possible for a 9-year old explained to me why she wanted to read the 1st Harry Potter book.  At this point I realized that I knew NOTHING about the books for myself and began my own inquiries.  After sharing all that I'd discovered with Rob we said that we would let Sarah read the 1st book ONLY after Mom had read it first.... about 10 days later I'd read the 4 released novels and was anxiously counting down the days with the rest of the world to the release of the 5th book.....
    ...... needless though it is to say: the rest, as they put it, is history.  Sarah and I were fans for life and got to share in the excitement of midnight book releases for the 6th and 7th books and opening night in the theaters for 4 of the movies. For Sarah it also spurned a love for reading, especially fantasy fiction, that lives on to this day.  She devours the written word and has a passion for writing that she will tell you was borne after the first chapter of Philosopher's Stone.   As her little brothers grew we got to bring them along for the ride.  Noah started reading the books shortly after the 7th book came out and Micah shortly before the 6th movie came out.  The boys were allowed to see the first 3 movies before reading the books, but after that had to wait until they'd first read the books - which explains why they're a little younger than Sarah was when they started.  We even MADE Rob (who is not a fan of reading) finish all 7 novels before he could see the movies as well and it has been fun for him to share in this excitement and anticipation with us.  Thank you JK Rowling.  You've gained 5 life-long fans and taught us more than you will ever know. 
Along our journey we've met many other family's who share our love and like to "play" with us.  3 of these families came together with us to celebrate (and mourn) the FINAL release of a Harry Potter movie.  We got advance tickets one of the first showings in Europe and planned a whole party to go along with it.  The parents and kids all made costumes, decorations, and planned games, crafts, activities and WONDERFUL food based on the novels and movies.(Sarah M. made the banners you see in the picture above)
These 2 cut-outs were made by Sarah M. and Libby G.  All the kids had their pictures taken in them, but I used Micah and Noah as my examples because they are both dressed up as the characters who belong in the signs.
We played "guess your patronous", potted mandrakes, and made sorting hats.  A couple of the other crafts had to be scrapped because of a shipping snafu with Oriental Trading Co. and a few of the games has to be canceled because of the cold, wet weather outside.  The kids still had a great time and we ended up watching the first part of the seventh movie all together.
The food in the Three-broomsticks (sign by Leah C.) was AMAZING.  We had an official Hogwarts pastry, bangers and mash, Bertie Bott's every-flavoured-beans, rock cakes, chocolate frogs, licorice wands, cockroach cluters, roast turkey (all pictured) and butter beer, gilly water, pumpkin juice, fever fudge, and..... I know I'm missing something..... I'll fill it in when I think of it.

Above - (Gabe, Harry 2nd yr. - Libby, Pansy Parkinson - Ben, Ron Weasley - Alexandra, Hermoine - Micah, Harry 1st year - Simon, Ravenclaw boy - Noah, Sirius Black 3rd year - Leah, Luna Lovegood - Sara, Fleur DelaCour - Baylor, Gilderoy Lockheart - Clara - Hogwarts student)

(Julie, Madame Hooch - Karen, Prof. Trelawney - Krissie, Mrs. Weasley - Bob, Mr. Weasley - Bobbie, Bellatrix LeStrange)
Dressing up was an amazing part of the festivities.  I'm so proud of all the kids and moms who made their own costumes!  Even though most of the adults were great sports and dressed up I'd have to say my favorite was Bobbie.  
FINALLY, it was time to head to the theater to catch the movie.  Sarah and her friend, Amy (who is staying with us this week from Munich) have had dance camp all day every day this week and so weren't able to join us for the party, but did get to come to the theater.  Sarah is dressed as Susan Bones and Amy is random gryffendor girl.  I won't write a review of the movie here (isn't this blog post long enough already?) but it's gooooooooooood.  It was made better by the huge group of us gathered, in costume,  among a sold-out theater full of other just-as-excited fans.  Before and after the movie several people stopped to beg a picture with all the kids in their costumes.  It was a once-in-a-lifetime night and we were thrilled to be a part of it!  A fantastic way to celebrate such a bittersweet moment.
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