Hundreds wait in line here for hours for new Potter book

Published 8:04 am Monday, June 23, 2003

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Hundreds of parents and their children filled the sidewalk from Majerek's Hallmark Readers World to Fourth Street in downtown Niles Friday evening.
Why, you may wonder?
They, many of whom had waited since before 9 p.m., were anxiously awaiting the release of the fifth Harry Potter book, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," of course.
The excitement grew noticeably when the truck transporting the new release -- escorted by a police car from the Niles City Police Department -- turned up outside the bookstore minutes before midnight.
The approximately 400 books were then swiftly unloaded and carried into the bookstore, which opened precisely as scheduled -- one minute past midnight.
People, who previous to the truck's arrival were entertained by music and costumed local people depicting characters from the Harry Potter books, then streamed into the bookstore.
Niles residents Connie Harper, and her son, Jordan Harper, were among the first to get their hands on a copy.
Jordan, a teenager, seemed more than a little excited about finally getting his hands on Harry's latest adventures.
He probably wasn't the only one exiting the bookstore with that thought in mind early Saturday morning.
The Harry Potter books are about the life of the young magician Harry Potter, and his life as a student at Hagworth, which is a school of sorcery.
All five books are written by English author J.K. Rowling and millions of copies have been sold worldwide.
Mardy Grzegorek, manager and book coordinator for Majerek's Hallmark Readers World in Niles, said the turnout for the release of the latest Harry Potter book went way beyond her expectation.
She was also glad to see the local community support a local bookstore.
However, the success of the Harry Potter book release is not the only event to draw large crowds to the downtown area lately.
A few weekends back the Great Niles Garage Barrage, a community garage sale, also drew hundreds of people downtown.
Which could be a sign recent efforts by downtown merchants, city officials and others to bring more people to the downtown area, is succeeding.
Ted Majerek owns Majerek's bookstore in Niles.
He stood outside his store Friday night and experienced the build-up to the book release.
He remembers back in 1956 when Niles had 157 retail stores in the downtown area and business was booming.
Having seen businesses come and go, and in recent years perhaps go more than come, Majerek is optimistic about the current push to revitalize the downtown area.
He is also impressed with the cooperation between people to make something happen downtown.
Majerek offered a bold statement to show his optimism.
And, to make that happen sooner rather than later, he offered a seemingly easy solution.
Local catering company DragonFly donated witch-shaped cookies for the event.
The event also included Harry Potter trivia games for the children, as well as spelling quizzes.