There were many Cursed Child release parties in Chicago, but I decided to go to the one at a Barnes & Noble in River North. For those of you that don’t know Chicago, River North is a fairly swanky downtown neighborhood where a lot of successful young professionals hang out. It felt goofily subversive to walk past lines of people dressed up and waiting to get into clubs on a Saturday night while I was on my way to a Harry Potter party.
Because the party was at a chain, though, it felt pretty sterile. They had an extremely efficient system of tickets to ensure that people got their books first-come, first-served, and tried to entice people to join a Barnes & Noble rewards program in order to get a book quicker. (I did not do this and was one of the last Muggles to get my book).
There was a frazzled man running around in a Snitch hat, and a very excited employee who came in dressed as Hedwig. I go the impression that she chose her costume and the Snitch-man didn’t.
There was lots of Harry Potter merchandise out, and some decorations, but in the end we were still in a Barnes & Noble. However, the people at the party were so excited that the environment didn’t matter. The age range was probably 7-50, and the most excited group was definitely people my age – those in their mid-twenties who just want to go back to Hogwarts.
There were lots of people (children and adults) in full-blown costumes and others wearing more subtle nods to HP, but everyone was in a good mood.
The ticketing system worked well, and I walked out with by book before 1 a.m., when there were only about twenty people left in the store and the employees were starting to look glassy-eyed.
Overall, it was fun, somewhat underwhelming, but totally heartwarming. And I got to spend an entire Sunday reading a Harry Potter book.