Pottermania at Lincoln Center

Fans camped outside Lincoln Center for tonight's Harry Potter red carpet premiere.

Preparing to watch the wizarding world’s final battle unfold, hundreds of muggle fans are engaging in a battle of their own. It may not be a fight of good versus evil, but that doesn’t make their struggle any less determined.

“We sleep in shifts,” said a fan who has camped for five days outside Lincoln Center to spot the stars at tonight’s red carpet premiere. “We have to be at the front of the line when they get here.”

Dressed in head-to-toe Harry Potter regalia, hundreds have slept on the street across from Lincoln Center for up to six days in the hopes of spotting a favorite cast member. Sleeping bags and blankets lined Dante Park, and fans perched atop a statue of Alighieri himself to escape the hoard, Gryffindor and Ravenclaw face paint dripping down their necks in the 91° heat.

“I get sleazy for Ron Weasley,” read Maryelle Smith’s poster.  Maryelle told The Observer she isn’t exaggerating. “It’s 100% true. I wouldn’t say that about many guys, but Rupert Grint, mmmm,” she said. “I’ve been in love with him since the first movie.”

And Megan Kidwell said she spent over $2,000 traveling from Illinois to meet Matthew Lewis, the actor who plays Neville Longbottom. With “I [heart] Matthew Lewis” painted on her face, she says the opportunity to meet him is “priceless.”

When The Observer mentioned that this was the final movie in the Potter franchise, we were met with a chorus of shrieks — a few even plugged their ears. “I don’t want to think about it! Don’t even bring it up,” said Jennifer Crumb, who arrived at the front of the line six days ago from Florida. “It’s the one last time they’ll all be together, so it’s just too much for me.”

Her friend, Bridget Claire, said she quit her waitressing job for a chance to meet the stars. “They weren’t going to give me time off to come here, but this is something I love, so it’s totally worth it.”

The fans have pursued their front-of-the-line spots with an almost religious fervor.  “We need everyone to know that we were here first,” said Ms. Crumb.

“It’s more than just movies; it’s our childhood ending,” said Natasha, who has stayed second in line for five days. “”For the first few nights we weren’t allowed to sleep here, so we had to wander the streets. At least the past few nights we got to sleep a little on the ground.”

Harry, Ron, and Hermione may have camped out in the Forrest of Dean, but even they never braved sleeping on New York City streets.

Pottermania at Lincoln Center