Naperville plans party for 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child'
Downtown Naperville is working some magic for the release of "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child."
J.K. Rowling's newest book is drawing the fanfare of a midnight release party in bookstores, the library, businesses and downtown streets, which will aim to seem more like Diagon Alley than the usual Jefferson, Main or Jackson streets.
Becky Anderson, co-owner of Anderson's Bookshop at 123 W. Jefferson Ave., says the event planned by the Downtown Naperville Alliance and businesses will be reminiscent of those hosted in the mid-2000s when the sixth and seventh books in Rowling's popular wizarding series were fresh off the presses.
To celebrate "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" and "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," events led by Anderson's brought as many as 70,000 people to downtown to join in the Potter-themed fun.
"It's incredible to see people turning out for a book," Anderson said.
This summer's release party is scheduled for the evening of Saturday, July 30 until the early morning of Sunday, July 31, with books doled out at midnight by Anderson's, Nichols Library and Barnes and Noble.
A stage will be set up for performers depicting scenes from the books. Businesses plan to remain open late, raising money for charities and offering food and drink specials inspired by the Hogwarts world.
"Lots of restaurants will be making butterbeer," Anderson said, referring to the butterscotch-flavored, mildly alcoholic drink of the wizarding characters.
Inside Anderson's for customers who preorder the $28 book will be live owls and raptors, trivia and games, fortune-telling and wand selection. A prediction wall will allow fans to write what they think will happen in the eighth Potter book, now that Harry is older and the story has progressed from the original series. Young actors dressed for the role may even provide "live portraits" in the store's front windows.
The city will close Jefferson Avenue from Main Street to Webster Street from 4 p.m. July 30 to 1 a.m. July 31 to allow festivities to take place outside.
The event will use $5,500 in grant money from the city's special events and cultural amenities fund that was given to the Downtown Naperville Alliance. The money originally was allocated for a New Year's Eve party, but City Clerk Pam Gallahue said that event has been scaled back and the book release party has grown in its place.
Some city council members were reluctant to allow the downtown alliance to transfer the grant money from one event to another, especially because the book release party is led by a business -- Anderson's -- instead of a nonprofit. But the council voted 5-3, with Anderson abstaining because she's a co-owner of the store, to grant a special event permit and allow the party to move forward and retain grant.