The Miami-Dade Public Library main branch in Downtown Miami was transformed into an approximation of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry when it presented a Midnight Book Release Party on July 30 for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
The extravagantly staged event, free to all children and adults, began at 7:30 p.m. and because the library normally closes at 6 p.m. on Saturdays getting everything set up in under an hour and a half took a lot of effort and planning by the library’s staff, who were moving with near magical speed.
It was a labor of love according to Kimberly Matthews, assistant director for the Miami-Dade Public Library system.
“Librarians love Harry Potter,” Matthews said before the event. “Everyone was super excited and it was just an absolute foregone conclusion that we would have a midnight release party. It was like Christmas in July. We didn’t have a lot of warning that the book was coming out. We’ve only known for about two months, so it was a little bit of a scramble, but I think it paid off and I think everyone will enjoy it.”
To celebrate the release of the book, the latest and possibly last Harry Potter book ever, the library had a Sorting Hat booth where fans could find out which Hogwarts House they were suited for: Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff; a magic show; a costume and trivia contest; a booth with a green screen, digital camera and computer to put fans into the world of Harry Potter; a movie screening; a mythical creatures show by Zoo Miami; an Owlery with a presentation by master falconer Neal Ottoway; themed crafts tables, a butterbeer booth and food truck vendors outside.
Rebecca Thelen of Palmetto Bay, with her family and friends, some of the youngsters in costumes, said they were all thoroughly enjoying the event.
“We’re all fans of Harry Potter,” she said, adding as she patted her daughter Ava’s shoulders, “This is my mini-Hermione.”
As they left one booth, members of the Diaz family commented with excitement about the event and why they were having fun.
“I like the Sorting Hat,” said Amy Diaz, a student at Jose Marti MAST School. “This is all very adventurous. My favorite character is Hermione.”
Her sister, Ashley Diaz, also a student at that school, said, “I love Harry Potter. I honestly came for everything!”
The event drew a crowd of hundreds of fans of all ages who packed the library building. At the stroke of midnight boxes of the new books — roughly 500 in all — were brought out on carts to be checked out by those library patrons who had reserved them. Copies also were available for sale by the Friends of the Library to raise money.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Parts I & II, by J. K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne is available in the library system and in bookstores everywhere. It is based on the script for the London stage play, set 19 years later as Harry Potter, now an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children, grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs.