Savannah’s legendary slow summer may grind to a halt completely this week, as adult Harry Potter fans turn off their Blackberries, shut down their computers, and leave town altogether to read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Ben Beasley started reading his just-delivered copy on Saturday evening. By Sunday afternoon, despite breaks for sleep, meals, church and a family visit, the Jack Leigh Gallery’s master printer/assistant director was about 200 pages into the final Potter book, which he estimates is “around nine hundred pages, but I’m not sure, because I don’t even want to glance at the back page. I don’t want any ideas about what might happen.”
Plot spoilers beware! “I will absolutely not be happy if anybody lets me know what happens in book seven,” says superior court judge Louisa Abbot, who prefers the audio version of the series. “As soon as the sixth book came out our family drove to Cincinnati and back” listening to the audio edition, crossing into Savannah just before the final minutes of the story.
“Even though we had been in the car for twelve hours we had to ride around town in the car to finish it because it’s a pretty gripping part of the book,” Judge Abbot says.
Georgia Ports Authority board chairman Steve Green is waiting for the audio version, promised as a birthday gift from his niece. A “huge J.K. Rowling fan,” Green believes the earlier novels were intended for children but also appealed to adults.
“As the series has gone on and the books’ characters have aged, I think the content is more appropriate for an older readership,” Green says. “The degree of violence has intensified.”
Later this week, Becky Cheatham will be taking a break from her duties as director of the Candler Foundation to finish Deathly Hallows, which she bought first thing Saturday morning.
“I read the first one on the front porch, sitting in my magic rocking chair,” says Cheatham. “I had heard so much about the books, read the TIME magazine cover story and wanted to see what all the chatter was about. I was hooked from the first page, the first paragraph.”
Some of us are spending the week catching up on previous Potter stories. “I’ve read the first five books but, believe it or not, I haven’t even started book six yet,” says Wallace Sharpley, a real estate agent. “If Harry Potter fans read this I’ll probably get stoned to death!”
Even farther behind is hair stylist Jim Holloway, who is racing through book four. By the time this story runs, yours truly will probably be finished—with book three.
Last Wednesday night, Raegan Hudson and Codi Middleton squished together into an oversized chair at the Twelve Oaks Starbucks, exhausted from their first day visiting Savannah from Mobile, Alabama. The girls were animated, despite feeling stuffed from dinner and spending most of the day in the shadeless 95 degree heat at Paulson Field, playing in the 10-and-under girls Fast Pitch Connection World Series softball tournament for the West Mobile Express.
Raegan plays left field and Codi covers second base. By 11:30 Thursday morning, West Mobile Express was up 5–1 at the top of the third inning in their game against the Georgia Storm. Minutes later, both girls had batted and scored, along with another player, and the Mobile team was feeling confident. The team would go on to win the whole shebang.
Team mom Deborah Poiroux watched the game from the Express’ portable tiki bar, towed to Savannah from Alabama, decorated with Louisville Sluggers and blasting “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” on the stereo between innings.
“It’s a dry bar,” says Poiroux. “We serve water and Gatorade.”
Phillip Poston, tournament director, estimates the tournament drew 1500 people to Paulson and Minick Fields from as far away as Indiana, Ohio, Arkansas, and Texas, filling hotel rooms from Hilton Head Island to Gateway at I-95 and Georgia 204, for the week long event.
“We like to have the tournament in a city where there’s something for kids to do when we’re not playing,” says Poston. With eighty-two teams involved, each with ten to fifteen members, plus one or two parents, siblings and the occasional grandparent, that’s a lot of economic investment to boost Savannah’s typically slow summer tourist season.
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