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For true Potter fans, no other place to be

Loyal Harry Potter fans make the pilgrimage to Edinburgh, Scotland, where J.K. Rowling wrote the books. 
/ Source: TODAY contributor

Three! … two!! ... and just after midnight, the black cloths were pulled off massive piles of books to raucous cheering, as the first copies of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” were revealed to the faithful who had traveled to Edinburgh from around the world in order to purchase copies of J.K. Rowling’s final Potter installment in the town where the young wizard was conceived.

Little Rons, Harrys and Hermiones, who earned their place of honor beside those first books by winning a look-alike contest run by the West End Waterstone’s bookstore, pulled on their crackers, exploding confetti into the air, before grabbing their copies of the “Deathly Hallows” and holding them up for the photographers, who loudly encouraged the young fans to smile larger, move closer to the owl and, please, stand still.

Complying was difficult for the eager readers.  In turn, they quickly moved to the cash register, paid for their books and almost immediately headed out of the door to retire to their homes or hotels and start reading.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Kaga Helgesen, 17, who traveled from Norway. 

"Because this is the hometown of Harry Potter,” added her friend, Adrianna Solowiej, 17.Flocking to Harry’s hometown
J.K. Rowling famously birthed Harry Potter in the coffee shops around Edinburgh back in 1995 when she was a struggling single mother living on public assistance.  And while the author celebrated the midnight release of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” with a midnight reading for fans in London, devotees said that did not diminish the festivities in Edinburgh.

“The essence of J.K. Rowling is still here,” said Astrid Skov-Jakobsen, 17, who traveled to Edinburgh from Denmark.

Astrid, her sister Bodil, 19, and their friend Julie Jensen., 17, who made the trio “J.K. Rowling’s Army” T-shirts, didn’t join the line outside Waterstone’s until 8:30 p.m., just 30 minutes before the official queue party featuring the Potted Potters — performance artists who “re-enacted” the first six books in less than 20 minutes — a magician, a balloon artist and a band playing medieval music.

Several fans had been waiting much longer.

Elizabeth Thacker, Nina Jones and Alice Langley, friends who live in or just outside London, queued up at the Waterstone’s bookstore in Edinburgh at 7 a.m. local time, before the staff even arrived to prepare for the event. While there are three Waterstone’s in Edinburgh, Thacker said she chose the West End location for its view of Edinburgh Castle, which many fans believe is the inspiration for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Just a few people behind the trio were Janine and Jutta Salm of Germany, dressed as witches from head to toe. They had been visiting Harry Potter sites around Scotland throughout the week, and 16-year-old Janine, who read the first six books in German, was excited to read her first Harry Potter book in English.

“The translations are not so good,” explained Jutta.

The first dog in line was Cyder, a seeing-eye dog attending the event with his owner, Kathelen Jackson. Jackson, 21, was thrilled that “Deathly Hallows” marks the first time the CDs have been released simultaneously with the books and she would finally be able to uncover the plot at the same time as her sighted friends.

‘Doing it right’
But Jackson was not eager enough to skip ahead to the end of the book. Neither were most fans in Edinburgh.

Thacker, after waiting in line more than 19 hours, refused a photographer’s request just to open the cover of her book.  Some in line leafed through the first few pages, a few children plopped on the floor and began devouring Chapter 1, but virtually nobody turned to the back pages.

“We’ve waited so many years, we’re going to do it right,” Adrianna Solowiej said.  “We are going to read all night.”