Sporting a floppy, wide-brimmed "sorting hat," Pam Frazier was living proof that Harry Pottermania has spanned generations and shattered stereotypes. By day, Frazier is a U.S. Air Force foreign policy adviser in the Joint Chiefs of Staff office in the Pentagon. She explained her hat.
"In the book, the hat speaks," she said on Friday night at Borders Books in Springfield, where Potter fans gathered for the new book "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix." Frazier's son Sam, 10, donned a Professor Dumbledore outfit, complete with a snowy owl.
"I like his Phoenix, a magical bird that goes into ashes," Sam said.
Their Harry Potter enthusiasm was shared by others in attendance at the opening night celebration. Starting at 9:30 p.m., fans were issued numbers, and once the clock struck midnight, Borders broke out the newest book in the Potter series, stored with secrecy until then. It is the fifth Harry Potter book by author JK Rowling.
Ally Foreman perused the crowd, dressed up like Hermione Granger, clutching her character’s customary three books.
"She's my favorite," Ally said.
Springfield resident Becky Cox was the Ministry of Magic Witch. She was with her sister Angela, Kristen Gaines and Meredith Lee Gower-Anderson from Burke.
"I'm basically a bureaucrat," Becky said of her character.
Lake Braddock graduate Elizabeth Murray, 17, used the Harry Potter books as an escape. Donned in a black velvet dress, she had just graduated a few nights before.
"After all the books you have to read, it's fun. I thought we'd get into the spirit and have a good time," she said.
Even Laura Turner, a Radford University student, admitted her allegiance to Potter. Although she wasn't in costume, she took a waiting-list number along with her twin sister, Kristin, and friend Christine Flood.
"We're like obsessed with the books," she said. "When you read it, you don't want to put it down."
Laura's sister had a confession. They started their efforts at 9 a.m. that day.
"We were here early to get a number," Kristin said.
Although the books were the main motivator, Borders made an event out of it. The evening's activities included a costume contest, scene re-enactments, trivia contests, wand making, hat decorating and specially made Harry Potter treats at the cafe.
"I've never seen it this busy," said Borders employee Carrie Smith.
The store stayed open until 2:30 a.m., distributing around 650 books to people in attendance. Borders Springfield had a total of 1,600 Harry Potter books in stock. Store staff planned to hand them out to people who registered until Sunday.