By Paula Rogo
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Think Harry Potter has seen his end? Think again!
Avid fans of the books and movies about the British boy wizard are determined that even after "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2" has come and gone from movie theaters, their hero of Hogwarts will live on forever.
The final film in the series of blockbusters based on J.K. Rowling's hugely popular novels telling of battles between good and evil in a fantasy world of witchcraft hits theaters this week, unleashing Pottermania upon the world once again. And the men, women, boys and girls who are donning invisible capes to celebrate want to make sure the fun will last.
In Orlando on Wednesday, 3400 crazed fans converged on LeakyCon, one of the largest "Harry Potter" conventions, for a five-day event sponsored by the popular "Potter" fan site, The Leaky Cauldron. The event was purposefully arranged for this week when organizers learned the release date of the movie.
"We gave two years notice so that people could budget to get here," said Melissa Anelli, Leaky Cauldron "webmistress" and best-selling author of "Harry, A History."
"It means that we have a big party together -- an ideal experience for Harry Potter fans," she said.
Their world was born in 1997 with the release of Rowling's "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." Fast forward 14 years later, and the franchise includes seven best-selling books and eight blockbuster movies. The novels have sold more than 450 million copies worldwide, while the movies are all among the top grossing films of all time with more than $6.4 billion in global ticket sales, combined.
Many fans have met friends and built communities around "Potter" lore, and they see no reason to end relationships just because the final "Potter" tale has been told.
Even Rowling herself has launched a new website called "Pottermore" as a way to keep people engaged, yet the site won't be fully active until this coming October.
A POTTER EDUCATION
Libraries and schools enjoyed a surge of interest in children's literature due to the books, and they continue to try and capitalize on the interest in all things "Harry Potter" by holding special events.
The Discovery Center Museum in Rockford, Illinois, a children's science museum, is staging an "Open House at Hogwarts" on Friday. Hogwarts, of course, is the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry where Harry and his friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger learn their magical trade.
The Discovery Center event includes a potions class in which kids can explore simple chemistry experiments, an "herbology" class, and even the chance to see live owls, or "messengers", from a local rehabilitation center.
"Magic and Science go hand-in-hand," said Ann Marie Walker, spokeswoman for the Center. "Kids love thinking about magic, and what we show them -- a lot of what they do -- is science."
Baylor University professor Greg Garrett, author of "One Fine Potion: The Literary Magic of Harry Potter," said that beyond fans' genuine love of the literature, many of unite around the message of "Harry Potter."
"They have learned a lot about who they are and what they have to do in this life," he said.
In New York this week, Jonathon Rosenthal and his Potter club "The Group That Shall Not Be Named," is planning a Harry Potter Wand Duel and themed picnic in Central Park. And they will host a party with Wizard Rock bands, a subgenre of rock music that evolved from the Potter books.
"I have three years of events in my head," Rosenthal said. "As long as there are fans involved, it'll keep going."
(Reporting by Paula Rogo; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)
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