Pilot story and photos

by Bill Lundquist

Harry Potter may be fictional, but he hit Brookings at midnight Saturday morning like a rock star.

About 60 children, adolescents and adults joined the Harry Potter party at the Words and Pictures book store on Oak Street to celebrate the nationwide midnight release of andquot;Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,andquot; the fifth book in the J.K. Rowling series.

Neighbors summoned the police when some shrieking teens outside the bookstore turned the event into something akin to an Elvis sighting. Readers are a pretty wild bunch.

What the officer found inside, however, was pure family fun. Children as young as three, dressed as witches, wizards and elves, munched happily on oatmeal chocolate chip cookies made by bookstore owner Pat Stewart.

Her husband Buzz rendered portraits of those in costume in watercolors. Harry Potter posters and bookmarks were given out.

When the witching, or selling, hour arrived, Stewart's friends helped carry stacks of the 870-page andquot;children'sandquot; book to the counter.

Stewart had predicted she would sell about six copies and give one away for the best costume at the midnight event.

Instead, she sold 37 copies and gave six away. She had originally thought that her 100-copy order would be sufficient for the summer. Now she is already thinking about reordering.

The group award for best costumes went to a trio of girls from Crescent City. Thanks to the Pilot Web site and word of mouth, they heard about the event, but with only one hour to go.

They found, in one closet, everything they needed to transform Brooke Knox into Harry Potter, Amy Filsinger into Hermione, and Rose Munger into Dobby the House Elf. They also sang the school song of Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry.

The award for the most original costume went to Sean Nash, who was dressed as the andquot;Whomping Willow,andquot; complete with the Weasley's Ford Anglia in its clutches.

Awards also went to sisters Kayl McCord, who came as the ghost Moaning Myrtle, and Krysten McCord, who came as Hermione.

Also winning an award for her Moaning Myrtle costume was Vanita Carrillo. The award to Brianna Rose made it a clean sweep for those dressed in Dobby costumes.

The youngest entrants were wizard Daisy Carr, 5, and witch Holly Carr, 3.

Red-haired Neil Watson made a perfect Ron Weasley, complete with broken wand.