Remember When... is a weekly feature every (#Throwback)Thursday where we look back on a moment that changed the world of pop culture forever. Come for the nostalgia, stay for the reminder that you are getting SO OLD.
What Happened: The date was July 21, 2007. For nearly a decade, children had been attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry with The Boy Who Lived, Harry Potter. Now, it was all coming to an end. [SPOILERS—do we still need a spoiler tag eight years later?] Dumbledore was dead, Voldemort was raising hell, and no one knew if Harry would make it out alive.
What Else Was Happening: In the Harry Potter movie universe, Order of the Phoenix, the fifth film, was hitting theaters. Stars Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Wastson were barely legal (at 18, Dan and Rupert made the cut, but Emma was still 17). Meanwhile, Twilight wasn't a movie yet and The Hunger Games hadn't even been written!
How We Remember It
Cinya Burton, Fabulist Editor (@BinyaLin): "Deathly Hallows came out on a Friday night during my first week in NYC. I went to the Barnes & Noble in Union Square and thank goodness I got there dumb-early because it was packed. They stopped letting people in at one point. I heard once that there were 1,000 people inside the store and 2,000 stuck outside, but who knows if that's actually true?
"Because I camped on the first floor (for HOURS!), at midnight I was within the first 50 people to get the book. I had to take the subway home and was a little nervous because I was still an NYC newbie and thus believed in the late-night horror stories. Luckily, the stations and trains were filled with hundreds of Harry Potter nerds trying to get their read on, so I was totally safe. I only made it through the first two or so chapters that night, but it was totally worth getting to brag to my friends that I had it FIRST."
Gina Serpe, Executive Editor: "I remember pointedly ignoring it like I did all the other Harry Potter books and movies that came out. I was on a one-woman crusade to boycott them because I read one article that credited the series with getting a nation to read again. They are children's books. Adults should have been ashamed of themselves. Clearly, Warner Bros and J.K. Rowling really felt the ill effects of my campaign."
Jenna Mullins, E! Loves Editor (@jbomb11): "I'm just now reading Harry Potter for the first time, so I was not a part of the frenzy. But I do remember that everyone kept talking about whether Harry would die in the end or not. That's all anyone speculated about. Will Harry survive?! So when my best friend came over with her just-bought copy of Deathly Hallows, I immediately snatched it from her, flipped to the back and read the last five or so pages. I wasn't going to spoil anything for her, but I personally had to know the ending, because I'm crazy like that. At the time, I had no desire to read the book series; I just wanted to find out what happened. Of course, now that I'm reading it myself, I know how it ends, which kind of sucks. Damn you, past me!"
Tierney Bricker, TV Scoop Editor (@tbrick2): "Where was I on July 20, 2007 at 10 p.m.? Waiting in the parking lot of my local Border's (R.I.P.!), anxiously awaiting the final Harry Potter book with three friends. I was 18, and it was the summer before my sophomore year of college. I started reading the series when I was 11, back in '99, so I actually grew up with Harry, Hermione and Ron, so yes, I was a bit of an emotional disaster at the midnight release.
"I remember my friend's mom made us a cake that was literally a Quidditch field, complete with the players, the golden snitch and everything. (It kind of tasted awful, but it was also wonderful 'cause, you know, it's a freakin' Quidditch cake.)
"At around 1 a.m., I finally got my hands on the book (which took longer than expected due to the massive amount of people, leading Border's to sort us by colored wristbands; mine was blue...the last group) and did not put it down until I finished it around 7 p.m. on July 21. (Speed-reading has its perks!) I laughed. I cried. I cried some more. I called my friend to discuss the final book, the series. And I knew I was part of a major moment in pop culture history. I may be a Muggle, but I'm a proud one. (And I would so be in Ravenclaw.)"