Saturday, November 20, 2010
Harry Potter Fans Riot at Cloverdale's Grand Theater
Breaking News from
The Confederacy Times
Cloverdale's Weekly Newspaper
It was a turbulent Friday night at Cloverdale’s Grand Theatre on the High Street for the village premier of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
“We expect a full house,” said Morris Klep, manager and projectionist. Then, after looking out the window at the line stretching down the street and interfering with traffic, he said "a full house" was an understatement. He confirmed what everyone half way down the street already suspected, The Grand wouldn't have enough seats for even a forth of the people in the line.
Many of the people in line were dressed in costume. Cloverdale’s weekly newspaper, The Confederacy Times, ran a story the week before reporting that everyone who came to the premier in costume would be admitted first. The costume promotion was Morris Klep's idea to drum up buzz for the movie. He looked again out the window at the growing crowd and took relief in the fact that he had an excuse to turn the uncostumned back ticketless. Its what he didn’t know that disrupted the peace of Cloverdale’s village centre that night.
Two days before the premier, students from the Comprehensive School’s monthly student newspaper printed hundreds of badges that read “Muggle”. If Morris had looked more closely he would have seen them selling the buttons up and down the line of hopefuls. Now the manager had a real problem. Everyone in the line was in some kind of costume to fit the Harry Potter universe and this meeting his requirement of wearing a costume for preferred seating. Morris flew into a rage after discovering he’d been duped and promptly instructed the ushers to go down the line and award passes to everyone in a ‘Real‘ costume.
That’s when things got ugly.
Floyd Pepper, the theater’s sixty five year old head usher was the first to brave the crowd. Five minutes later the ambulance arrived to rush him to the clinic for stitches. He was viciously attacked by a wand bearing "Muggle". His three minor puncture wounds were not life threatening.
Sixteen year old Penny Ploom was the next ordered out. Three minutes later she struggled to get back to the safety of the Grand's lobby. She was drenched in butter beer. Another of the Comprehensive School’s fund raisers, being sold up and down the line by the school's Drama Club. She was lucky. There was no blood loss - just her dignity.
Morris Klep had had enough and called the police. Their arrival only made things worse, resulting in shouting, shoving, cursing, and spitting. Spells cast with waving wands peppered the two village constables. Seeing they were outnumbered by a very determined mob of fans, the police withdrew and called in the fire department. Cloverdale’s one engine arrived, attached its hoses to the nearest hydrants and turned them full blast into the crowd. The water's force sent witches, wizards and muggles tumbling down the street.
It was surreal.
Morris saw his chance as the stunned crowd struggled to get back on their feet and regain their senses. He opened the theater’s doors and admitted those that got to the ticket booth first. Within minutes the theater was full and the doors shut and locked.
Thirty minutes later Morris sat in the projectionist booth grateful it was all over. Besides the dripping wet carpets and patrons, the only evidence of the Harry Potter riot was the wet dog smell that permeated the theater.
It was something he could live with.