Parents, kids pack bookstore for new 'Harry Potter'

By JOE MILICIA, Associated Press Writer
HUDSON, Ohio (AP) - Nicole Rosales hugged her copy of the new Harry Potter book, tears streaming down her face.
"I don't know what to do, why am I crying?" the speechless 15-year-old said.
Police estimated about 3,000 people crowded a quarter-mile stretch of this northeast Ohio city's downtown Friday night, waiting for the 12:01 a.m. Saturday release of J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix."
Harry Potter look-alikes wearing round-rimmed glasses and lightning-bolt scars joined their parents on Main Street -- known this night as Diagon Alley. Shops were offering wand-making stations, a bubbling cauldron of Gryffindor Grog, Muggles Mocha Smoothies and Moaning Myrtle Muffins.
Rosales, wearing a black "ROWLING IS A GENIUS" T-Shirt and a black wizard hat, predicted an overnight reading marathon of the 870-page novel after receiving the first of the Learned Owl Book Shop's 1,700 copies.
"We're not going to sleep tonight," she said.
"We're staying up all night," chimed in her cousin, 14-year-old Sarah Murdock.
Blaine Davidson, his wife and two sons planned to begin reading their copy aloud as soon as they got home.
"I can't believe we did that," Davidson said of waiting in line for several hours. But he said it was worth it.
"To see your kids so excited about a book means a lot," he said.
Christine Griffith, 15, and Lauren Bair, 16, each clutched a copy of the book and jumped up and down chanting "We have the book! We have the book!"
Griffith predicted she would finish the book Saturday.
"It's even better than Christmas morning," Bair said.
A throng of people counted down the final 30 seconds before the fifth book in the Harry Potter series was released. They burst through the bookstore's doors smiling and screaming with excitement.
But not everybody approved. Three people stood on a street corner to protest the latest book about the boy wizard.
Warren Crissman, 39, of Akron, held a "LOVE JESUS" sign and told passers-by that they were putting their children on a path toward hell.
"Harry Potter witchcraft is an abomination," Crissman shouted. "Come on folks, open your eyes, there's something called Satanism in this country. Harry Potter is starting the path toward Satanism."
Shortly after Crissman's arrival, Tom Shawcross, 17, appeared on an opposite street corner holding a sign that said: "LOVE HARRY."
"They want to spoil a good time for people," Shawcross said of the protesters. "Harry Potter promotes reading. It's just a fun character."
Liz Murphy, who owns the Learned Owl, said 650 of the 1,700 copies of the book were preordered. She expected to sell at least 500 more after the book's release.
Scholastic Inc., the U.S. publisher of the books, has commissioned a record 8.5 million-copy first printing for the latest volume.
In suburban Cincinnati, a Barnes & Noble Booksellers store handed out numbers for people to begin standing in line at 11:30 p.m.
"We've been taking orders since February," said Chad Davidson, a department manager at the store in Kenwood. "It should be the biggest (selling) book of probably the last several years."
Security remained high at most outlets. The 100 copies already reserved at the Westerville Library in suburban Columbus were being kept out of sight in the basement.
"We are afraid if we wheel them through the library when patrons are in the building we will start a frenzy," manager Annabell Burton said. "We are not even unpacking them from the boxes until after we close."
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)