Like so many generations before us, mine came of age in an uncertain world. We witnessed 9/11 in our classrooms, barely teenagers. We've seen our friends and family serve in two wars in the Middle East. Again. And again.
Over our heads has been a recession, the threat of terrorism and warnings of an environmental crisis, a financial meltdown and even the apocalypse.
And as we did our homework and graduated elementary, junior high and high school and began to gain ownership of ourselves, we latched onto a series that inspired hope, morality and love. One with imperfect characters we hoped to see in ourselves. One that dazzled us, entranced us and captured our imagination.
We've grown up rooting for those in the very darkest of times to find the peace and certainty they so deserve.
With so much riding on the movie series, HP fans haven't always come away from the midnight showings fulfilled.
You will not be disappointed in this film.
Friday, 12 a.m.
Movie time! Enjoy Potter fans!
Thursday, 11 p.m.
One hour!! A group of girls has started to duel in the theater. I mean it. They're yelling, "Stupify!" at each other and falling down. One used the "Chicken Dance" spell.
Thursday, 10:30 p.m.
I have now officially seen a Batman, Ironman, a guy in a gorilla suit, several elves, a Bellatrix, many Gryffindor and Slytherin students and a couple Lunas.
Thursday, 9:30 p.m.
Colorful characters spotted: one stormtrooper and a guy with a cart asking if people would like anything off the trolley.
Thursday, 8:30 p.m.
There are about 40 people in the IMAX line, and patrons are waiting in the theaters for the other 15 midnight showings.
Thursday, 7 p.m.
(There are 19 people in line.)
Harry Potter die-hards started getting in line for the midnight showing at the IMAX at 9:30 a.m.
Adam Zastresek was the first in line. He said just wanted to get good seats.
By around 2 p.m., there were 10 people in line, all sitting in lawn chairs, watching movies on laptops, taking shifts and charging phones in the bathrooms.
Lauri Ciaccio-Huerta showed up a couple hours after the theater opened with her daughter, Jianni, her nephew and friends they met at the midnight showing of the last Harry Potter movie.
Why do they wait so long before the show even starts?
"We just have such a good time," Ciaccio-Huerta said.
"I grew up with this," Jianni Ciaccio said. "From the outside, people would think, why would you want to see it at 12:01 a.m.? I want to be the first to see it."
They've been taking shifts throughout the day. Two will go swim in a pool or get a bite to eat while the others hold down the fort at the theater. At the theater, they play card games while sitting in lawn chairs.
"Last year, no one had lawn chairs," Jianni Ciaccio said.
Thursday, 6:30 p.m.
(There are 15 people in line)
Ally Haley arrived at noon to Cinemark to get in line for the midnight IMAX 3-D show.
"Last year, by 5 or 6 p.m., the room was half full," Haley said. "I expected more people tonight."
She said she's used to waiting in line. "For concerts, I get in line at 6 in the morning to get the front row. That's what you have to do."
Haley, who is 18, said she waits in line for Harry Potter because it would "seem wrong" to not be there.
"I've been addicted to [Harry Potter] since I was 6 years old," she said. "That's two-thirds of my life. It seems wrong to not be here all day. I love it way too much ... It's 12 years of an addiction."
Haley said she loves HP because the characters are very endearing and there are good life lessons and morals:
"It's my childhood coming to a close, a definite close. Done."
Thursday, 4:30 p.m.
Tickets are still available for the 3-D 3 a.m. and 2-D 3:02 a.m. showings at and the 3 a.m. 3-D and 3 a.m. 2-D shows at .
Thursday, 2:30 p.m.
Moviegoers are already lining up. There was a line of 10 people at Cinemark's IMAX an hour ago for tonight's midnight show, according to a reader's post on Facebook.
Thursday, 2:15 p.m.
Just under 10 hours!
Will Harry Potter survive the test of time?
Sheri Daun-Bedford, head of the children's department at the , said she's not sure.
"I don't think the interest will be the same," Daun-Bedford said. "But it's hard to say if something will be a classic."
She said of two shelves of Potter books, only six remained on the shelves Thursday.
"Every time a movie comes out, people go back and read all the books," Daun-Bedford said.
Now that there are no more movies to pique interest, Daun-Bedford said she doesn't know if Harry Potter will remain the "very strong phenomenon it has been at its height."
But its past and current interest is undeniable.
"It did a lot for kids in reading," she said. "She spanned all ages and brought families together...These are 700- to 800-page books and kids are clamoring for them. That's unheard of."
Thursday, 12 p.m.
Almost 12 hours left until the midnight premiere!
Some of the kids in Adventure Camp will participate in a week of Harry Potter-themed activities next week, including attending a showing of HP7 Pt. 2.
For the kids, and staff, Harry Potter has been a book series different from any other.
"It's the end of a really big thing," said 21-year-old Ryan Rhodes, one of the staff members working with the group. "I read the first book when I was in third grade. It's been most of my life. It's important to my generation.
"It interests all ages, boys and girls. It's one of those things that got people into reading."
The group includes kids 11- and 12-year old, meaning they were 1 or 2 when the movies first started coming out. But that hasn't stymied their love for the series.
Two girls in the program, Kierstyn Hill and Lauren Vein, both 11, are going to the midnight showing Thursday night.
It will be the first Harry Potter midnight showing for Hill.
"My mom, brother and I are huge Harry Potter fans," Hill said. "We always try to go to the midnight show but it's always sold out. We finally bought the tickets in advance this time."
Vein said she loves to go for the added spookiness of the night.
"It's for the scare," Vein said. "When you get out of the movie, it's dark and you half-expect dementors to come out."
She said she's also seeing the movie . Draco Malfoy is her favorite character.
Here's what other kids in the program said:
"The actors are so deeply into the movies, they act like they really should be the characters. I love how the books have so much detail." -- Valerie Jardine, 12
"The books are just magical. They're different from every other book." -- Cassidy Hanyzewski, 12
"They're just so epic that I can't stop reading them. They're so easy to get into." -- Nimit Zaveri, 12
"I love watching the movies. I've been watching the marathon, and I can't wait." -- Jason Pettit, 12
Wednesday, 4 p.m.
In a little more than 24 hours, Harry Potter fans will start lining up for midnight showings of the final installment of the Harry Potter movie series.
As we count down to the last film, we'll provide you with information from Woodridge's three movie theaters and the thoughts of HP fans as we reach this bittersweet milestone.
Midnight showings at and are all sold out. As of 4 p.m., 20 tickets were left for the double feature of the two HP 7 films at .
Cinemark offered 15 midnight showings Thursday (two 3-D, one IMAX 3-D and 12 regular). Hollywood Blvd. offered one 3-D and one 2-D showing. Loews offered five regular showings of the film, three 3-D showings and one double feature.
For the night owls, a 3 a.m. IMAX 3-D show and a 3:02 a.m. Digital Cinema show are still open at Cinemark.
Loews is also offering a 3 a.m. 2-D and a 3 a.m. 3-D show.
Some shows into the weekend have sold out as well.
Cinemark's 7 and 10 p.m. 3-D showings have sold out. Angelique Barthel, who handles marketing and public relations for Hollywood Blvd., said showings into the weekend have sold out, but tickets are still available. Interested movie-goers should check out the theater's website.
Kids. teens share their thoughts on Harry Potter
We interviewed kids and teens at about their favorite Harry Potter characters and what the series means to them.
Name: Stacy, 10
Favorite characters: Harry Potter and Hermione
Loves: That Harry Potter is determined to beat Voldemort.
Name: Gael, 14
Favorite Character: Harry
Why she likes Harry Potter: Harry Potter is magical.
Name: Andrew, 14
Favorite characters: Fred & George Weasley (the twins) because they're funny.
What he likes about Harry Potter: It's entertaining.
Name: Kristen, 12
Will she see the movie? I have no time to read the books or watch the movies really, but I will probably go see the movie with my brother or friends if my parents let her.