Photo of delighted fans by Carrie Musgrave.
It’s a curious bit of magic that can connect eighties synth-pop, Bob Marley, and bouncing castles with a seventeen-year-old boy wizard. It’s even more curious to see how far that wizard and his multi-billionaire creator have come in just a few short years.
Last night, magic and wonder invaded the typically staunch and business-like intersection of Bay and Bloor. To celebrate the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Indigo managed to shut down part of Bay just south of Bloor, turning anything vaguely related to magic and/or Britain into a veritable spell-a-palooza. Double-decker tourist buses were suddenly the magical Knight Bus. A stilt-walker was dressed in a beard and robes and became a larger-than-life Merlin. A reggae band belted out magical island rhythms. Corn was transfigured into some sort of popped…corn. Even 97.3 EZ Rock had a tent, for some reason.
Apart from a few annoyed-looking patrons on the patios of nearby restaurants as well as a few upset folks hoping to get some work done at Starbucks, the atmosphere was very much one of pure, childlike joy. However, as the night wore on and a fair amount of children left to head to bed and people began to set their minds on the night’s real goal: to get their hands on a copy of the vaunted seventh and final book in the Harry Potter series. Fans began to wander into the Indigo itself and were greeting by an obnoxious DJ who played thirty-second clips of such magical tunes as Sean Paul’s “Shake That Thing.” The DJ made some costumed fans positively red-faced by mispronouncing the names of the different houses of Hogwarts, Harry’s school.
To its credit, Indigo had a pretty ingenious system of selling the books worked out. Customers were given numbered wristbands when they got into the store—blue for those who had pre-ordered the book and green for those that had just shown up to buy it. Everyone lined up at a sign that had a range of fifty numbers.
As the final hour of our wait approached, panic set in. People were finally beginning to realize that this was possibly their last time to venture into Harry’s world of monsters, magic, and awkward pubescent romance. Thousands of bodies fire-hazardously packed between bookshelves made the store feel like the sweltering levels of hell, which didn’t help the situation. Groans, moans, and even a child crying could be heard, yet every time it was announced that we were five minutes closer to midnight, cheers let out. One Indigo employee, a bespectacled fellow named Justin, even developed a small cult following as he passed by the same numbered group several times.
Finally, elation. After an excited, New Years-esque countdown, it was midnight! Slowly, each numbered sign was lifted and groups of fifty people were led to the cash register to make J.K. Rowling’s bank account even larger. After forty-five minutes, Torontoist got its own copy and quickly rushed off to read it.
Outside, reveling fans dotted the streets—some waiting for their parents, some sitting down on street corners to read a few chapters right away. Shouts of “happy reading!” could be heard down Bloor Street. The final foray into Harry’s world had begun.
View more photos from our Flickr pool after the fold.