FAIRFIELD — Fictional boy wizard Harry Potter, known for years as “the boy who lived,” is becoming, for a new generation of young fans, the boy who lived – a long time ago.

It’s been six years since the final book was published in 2007, capping off a decade of book releases that were cultural events in and of themselves.

Today’s young teen fans won’t remember how each publication resulted in a national discussion about the sales numbers and length of each book, the long lines for midnight release parties at booksellers and, most important to the rabid fans, what would happen next in the ongoing struggle between the downtrodden orphan and the evil Lord Voldemort.

But in Fairfield and 14 other communities throughout the nation, young fans will get a taste of the days when celebrating Harry Potter was a group activity.

The Lawrence Public Library was one of 15 winners chosen from a pool of hundreds of applicants by a panel of judges from U.S. publisher Scholastic.

For submitting a winning entry in the contest, the library received $100 and Potter-themed gift items, including 100 copies of the new trade paperback edition of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” to give away during a party on Thursday, celebrating the 15th anniversary of the domestic release of the first book in the seven-volume series.

For Alyssa Patterson, the children’s librarian at Lawrence who submitted the winning essay, the party will be a chance to recreate some of the excitement she felt when she picked up her first Potter book.

Areas of the library will be decorated to represent different locations from the book – Diagon Alley, Platform Nine and Three-Quarters – and activities will include a costume contest, a wand-making shop, trivia, and a sorting by house, in which attendees choose to be members of house teams known for a particular attribute: bravery, slyness, friendship or cleverness.

First-generation readers and the newly initiated have experienced the books and movies in different ways.

For Patterson, who got caught up in the Harry Potter craze part way through the series, going to midnight release parties was part of the experience.

At the publication of the last book, she went to a party at the Mr. Paperback bookstore in Waterville, dressed as Nymphadora Tonks, a nymph who can change her hair color at will and who eventually marries a werewolf. She will dress as a different version of Tonks on Thursday.

“When I got home, I started reading right away until four or so in the morning and got up at eight and read until it was finished,” she said.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling can be contacted at 861-9287 or at:

[email protected]

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