Harry Potter

“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone," the first book of J.K. Rowling's series, was released in America 20 years ago. To celebrate the anniversary, Barnes & Noble will hold a special event on Saturday, filled with activities, cosplay and more.

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Harry Potter fans don't need a reason to celebrate the boy wizard, but it never hurts to have one anyway. This year, there's a good one: It's the 20th anniversary of the U.S. release of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," the first book in the series by J.K. Rowling. 

To commemorate the anniversary, the local Barnes & Noble store will be holding three events this year, with the first happening Saturday at 6 p.m.

The event "is geared toward celebrating with fans young and old, as well as introducing the beloved series to a new generation of readers," said Cody Meek, the local store's community business development manager, in an email. 

Naturally, the event starts with the Sorting Ceremony, where guests will find out in which of Hogwarts' four houses they belong. For the Muggles (non-magic folks), those houses are Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Slytherin. 

From there, honorary witches and wizards will participate in activities like "What's in the Bestiary?" Meek said, where wizard actors or artists will give clues about a mythical creature that their team must guess.

If midnight releases for previous Harry Potter books are anything to go on, the folks at Barnes & Noble are expecting quite a crowd. Meek said the store's Harry Potter events are always popular. The last one was the July 2016 release of "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child," which Meek said was "one of the busiest and most fun events" he's seen at the store.

"Judging by that event, I imagine we'll have a pretty good mix of new Harry Potter fans and readers who first picked up their copy 20 years ago," Meek said. "With Harry Potter, I've found that no matter their age, fans of J.K. Rowling's wizarding world share the same thoughtful and kind love for the source material."

The other two anniversary celebration events this year don't have set dates yet, but expect one in the summer or early fall and the other in the holiday season, Meek said. Those will be similar to this first event, but with different activities and prizes.

Saturday, 50 "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: The Illustrated Edition" posters will be given away while supplies last. But as most wizards and witches know, it's not about prizes or even house points. 

"I think the games and events are a lot of fun, but the best part of celebrating Harry Potter at Barnes & Noble has to be the fans," Meek said. "Everyone is filled with such enthusiasm for Harry Potter that you can't deny there is something magical about this book. My favorite part is seeing everyone show up in cosplay of their favorite wizard or dressed in their house colors."

Whether you're a new Hogwarts student or a wizened old wizard, everyone is welcome at this event.

"Every Harry Potter fan should visit this Saturday to relive the magic and have some fun with fellow fans. We can't wait to see everyone here for Harry Potter Book Night and at the other events later this year."

Kelly Ardis can be reached at 661-395-7660. Follow her on Twitter at @TBCKellyArdis.

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