The power of Potter


FARMINGTON – Excitement about next week’s Harry Potter-themed party continued to build Tuesday at Flourish and Blotts, er, Devaney, Doak and Garrett Booksellers.

Any time a new Harry Potter book beckons, Kenny Brechner’s store at 193 Broadway transforms into Flourish and Blotts, a bookstore in Diagon Alley, where Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry students purchase most of their school books in the wildly popular J. K. Rowling fantasy series.

This year, Brechner said he went all out for the store’s fourth straight and final Harry Potter Party, convincing 10 prominent Farmington people to portray wanted Death Eaters – mysterious minions of Potter’s nemesis, Lord Voldemort – for a video that plays daily in the store window. But it’s best viewed at night when competing daylight reflections vanish.

“This time we did something I’m really proud of. We made a ‘Dark Menace Advisory,'” Brechner said of the video that mimics the animated photographs from print media described in the books and portrayed in the Harry Potter films.

“One of the things about running a bookstore in a small town like Farmington is that community matters. I’ve been here 16 years, so I picked people whom I knew who enjoy books and would think of this as fun and interesting.”

Among them are Rep. Janet Mills, D-Farmington, who portrays Sirius Black’s demented sister, Bellatrix Lestrange; masseuse Ken Richards, who portrays Antonin Dolohov; and University of Maine at Farmington President Theo Kalikow, who plays Dolohov’s wife, Lucretia.

Impromptu fun and eye-catching was how Mills described her part and the silent film.

“It was a quick attempt to look ugly and mean, which comes natural to some of us,” she said by phone from home late Wednesday evening.

“It’s stepping out of your everyday role and into an otherworldly role. I think I’ve always been a Death Eater at heart. It’s a power thing, a fear thing. But I’m dying to see the movie to see what I do,” Mills said of her character’s role in the newly released “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” film.

Brechner’s storefront window portrays a scene depicted in a passage in the sixth book, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.”

“It describes how the Flourish and Blotts windows in Diagon Alley changed. They were marred by purple Ministry of Magic advisory notices and Death Eater-wanted ads, so we tried to bring those in,” Brechner said.

Scribbled graffiti-like on some of the notices are sentences like, “Free Stan Shunpike!” and “No more Ministry – We won’t listen!”

Shunpike was the conductor of the Knight Bus in “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.” He was arrested by the Ministry on suspicion of Death Eater activity, said Brechner, an ardent Harry Potter fan.

“We tried to do things we knew were occurring in the books, like (in the July 2005 party) we had an arithmancy exam and Care of Magical Creatures foods to try and identify by touch. We also did Ordinary Wizarding Levels exam stations and had an 8-foot-long basilisk cake. This time, we’re going to have a massive cake, but there will be different and fun stuff to do,” Brechner said.

As for the party and theme itself, that’s top secret just like the text in Rowling’s final book, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” which Brechner will start selling at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, July 21, after the party.

“When a book is this popular, people project themselves into it. So, the whole goal of our party is to bring that to life. We sent an all-points bulletin out with our window so I’m confident we’re going to pull off a great party. I’ve had so many people comment that the whole window display is fantastic. We’ve gotten a huge response, a lot of calls,” Brechner said.

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