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After almost a decade since the last book, fans gathered at bookstores to celebrate the release of Cursed Child

By Ale Russian
Updated July 31, 2016 10:55 AM
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Credit: Rob Stothard/Getty Images

They did their waiting – nine years of it!

With the July 31 release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, so came the epic midnight parties Potter fans are known for.

Giddy for new material, Potter fans excitedly gathered in book stores all over the world to countdown the release of a new look into Potter’s work

At the famed Strand Book store in Manhattan, the excitement was palpable. Most fans were in disbelief at finding themselves at another midnight release for a new Potter book – something they never thought would happen again.

“It’s kind of surreal!” Katie, 25, told PEOPLE at the event. “I was saying earlier that I was kind of in denial of this happening still.”

She said she was most excited to relieve the best memories of her childhood as she had been to every midnight release before. She was dressed up as a Revenclaw student while her four friends were each from a different house and assumed their house’s personality as they posed for pictures in the photo booth set up by the bookstore.

And the Strand really went all out! All four floors of the bookstore had a different activity and fans had plenty of ways to keep themselves entertained until midnight. This was the most important detail of the night for Whitney Hu, Strand’s communications director who helped plan the event.

“The events director and I realized that the Strand had actually never done a midnight release and we’re both huge Potterheads,” Hu told PEOPLE.

“For us, it was just trying to find a way to keep people entertained while waiting until midnight,” Hu said. “We’ve kinda kept every floor having it’s own feel so people can meander and walk up and down.”

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And the eager fans definitely took advantage of all the activities!

Trivia was a hit with the room packed full of people trying to best each other the books they know by heart. But the real treat was walking around and getting to see all the cool costumes – something the Strand encouraged with two separate costume contests.

The first round was for kids, in which 8-year-old Sam walked away with a prize for dressing up as Quidditch Harry Potter – golden snitch and all!

“I like Harry because he risked his life to fight Voldemort!” Sam said after winning. His mom told PEOPLE that he’s a huge Potter fan and even once watched all the movies in less than a week when he was sick.

It was a treat for him to attend a midnight release since he hadn’t even been born when the most recent book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was released.

But although there were certainly little Potter fans running around the Strand on Saturday night, the crowd definitely skewed towards older fans. Most guests were well into their 20s and had been Sam’s age when the books first started.

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“It’s something that I definitely didn’t really expect to happen at this point in my life and getting to do this all over again is really great,” Rachel, 25, told PEOPLE. “Most of the people here are definitely from the Harry Potter generation and it’s not little kids now. Any way to sort of grab onto that nostalgia factor and get to relive it all is great!”

And when the clock finally hit 12:01 – and not a minute earlier! – the hardcore fans were rewarded for their long wait.

Screams and cheering were heard from every floor and people eagerly pressed forward to get their hands on the book – with some immediately sitting down and getting a start on reading it!

“I can’t believe I’m finally holding it!” Camille said on her way out. She’s not planning on doing anything else but reading the tome this Sunday.

It was definitely a magical night for all the Potterheads out there!