‘Potter generation’ prepares for series’ bittersweet ending

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SEATTLE (AP) – They were just learning to instant-message their friends when Harry Potter got his first owl from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

As they were using their freshly minted licenses to drive to school, Harry was meeting his estranged godfather Sirius Black.

When they were already stalking old boyfriends and girlfriends through MySpace and Facebook, Harry was getting his first kiss, battling evil wizards and discovering a prophecy about his future.

And in a few days, a generation of children who grew up with the Harry Potter series will learn the fate J.K. Rowling has for the boy wizard who was with them through it all.

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Makenzie Greenblatt, a 20-year-old student at the University of Washington, began reading Harry Potter in 1999 when she received the first book in the series for Hanukkah. Back then, people barely knew the significance of a lightning-shaped scar when her friend’s little brother dressed up as the boy who lived for Halloween.

“It’s been weird to watch the phenomenon of it spread and to see how big it’s become,” Greenblatt said, dressed in a witches hat, cape and Harry Potter shirt at the recent premiere of “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” in Seattle.

In the past decade, Greenblatt and her peers hoarded every word of Rowling’s unfolding series. Now they’re in college or at their first jobs.

In fact, Morgan and Greenblatt met while creating a Harry Potter style competition for the drama department at the University of Washington.

For Sarah Harper, a 19-year-old student at Centenary College of Louisiana, reading the series through her adolescence was like growing up with Harry. “At 15 his experiences were very similar to my experiences in a weird way. Except I wasn’t fighting evil wizards all the time,” Harper said.

As the hours count down to 12:01 a.m. Saturday, members of the Potter generation are preparing for the end of a decade-long affair.

Some plan to reread the series. Caroline Reaves, a 19-year-old student at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, sped through all 885,943 words of the first six books in 24 hours to prepare for book seven. She said she might slow down to savor the last book.

Emerson Spartz, creator of the popular Potter site Mugglenet.com, said the last pages would be bittersweet.

“Each page is going to be like a death clock counting down,” Spartz said.

After the last page is turned, what do Potterphiles do next?

“We read them again, and again, and again,” Greenblatt said.

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