They’ll always have Harry.
That was the sentiment among thousands of “Potter” fans who turned out at theaters across Long Island overnight for the first screenings of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part Two,” the final chapter of the series.
Like many in the crowd of moviegoers, Jellena and her siblings, Lexi, 12, and Michael, 10, dressed as Hogwarts students representing their favorite houses: Ravenclaw, Slytherin and Hufflepuff.
“I don’t like the movie because it’s the end, and Harry Potter’s not supposed to end,” said Joey Mazzola, 19, of East Williston, who dressed as Professor Remus Lupin in a shabby suit and carried a briefcase. His girlfriend, Chelsea Pelaez of Garden City Park, came as Tonks, Lupin’s wife, in a costume topped off with a pink wig. Both play on Villanova University’s Quidditch team and are members of its Harry Potter Club.
“It’s just painfully relatable,” Welsh said. “I turned 18 two weeks ago and it’s like, ‘I’m an adult now.’ And now this is over and I’m like, ‘I was an adult two weeks ago and childhood is over this week.’”
All three teenagers had trouble holding back tears during the movie. Gardner kept her 3D glasses -- which looked like Harry's trademark black glasses.
“I think when it first hit me was a random scene because I just remembered myself when I was little reading the books and it was the middle of the movie and I was just like, ‘I can’t handle this right now,’” Gardner said.
All three teens swore that their children would someday read the books.
“The whole point of the movie is if you love something, it can never truly die,” Welsh said. “But unfortunately that doesn’t help us too much right now.”
"We got here so early because we want to have a good spot," said Bill Beers, 45, of Levittown. He arrived at 6:50 p.m. with daughters Allison, 14, and Amanda, 17, to be among the first to see a double feature of "Deathly Hallows Part 1" and the final movie. "As soon as the music starts and the Warner Brothers sign comes up . . . I'm going to try not to cry," said Amanda, who was wearing a black cloak.
At the mention of shedding tears, Sharon Byrne, 44, of North Merrick, realized she forgot to bring tissues and instructed her kids -- Mary Kate, 14, and Patrick, 12, to grab extra napkins. After all, she had read every Potter book to them at bedtime every night since J.K. Rowling started the series.
"Every single word I read out loud to these two," Byrne said, adding that this was their first midnight movie premiere. "I am really looking forward to seeing the ending."
"I don't really think it's ending because it's still alive in everyone's hearts," Mary Kate said later, sitting cross-legged with red and gold Gryffindor-painted toenails.
This theme permeated the theater, where kids and adults all gathered -- many carrying wands, dressed in robes or wearing Harry Potter-type colored scarves. But people were still sad the Hogwarts thrill was ending.
"I've been reading since I was in elementary school," said Cory Jordan, 22, of Amityville. "I grew up with Harry. To see it in live action is going to be the end of a saga. . . . I'm going to be very sad."
"It's bittersweet," said Jackie Schuerlien, 25, of Merrick, who came to the film with a dozen friends. Her final words for the film she had not yet seen: "We miss you, Harry."
Meanwhile, earlier in the day, Ginny Albinson, 12, and a dozen other preteens and teens gathered at the Port Jefferson Free Library Teen Center for Potter-themed trivia, games, crafts and snacks.
At the library, dressed up as the character Hermione in a black hat and a Gryffindor scarf, Melissa Nolan said she had grown up with the characters. "I feel like Harry, Ron and Hermione are my friends and I don't want to say goodbye to them," said Nolan, 16, of Miller Place.
Brian Gasperini, 16, of Sound Beach, began reading the books in third grade, he said.
"The fact that she was writing it as we were growing up, it was awesome," he said. "I have every single first edition book; I stayed up late for the midnight releases."
With Ali Eaves
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Storify by Marissa Cetin, Elaine Vuong and Jessica Kelley