What good is a wizard if he can't make the rain go away?

The weather was looking as grim as a goblin and as dark as a Dementor until Harry Potter waved his wand Thursday night, ensuring that the outdoor screening at Cinebarre in Mount Pleasant would be incanted as scheduled.

"The Final Harry Potter Festival" at Cinebarre, also featuring two indoor screenings, was one of several Charleston area parties celebrating the midnight debut of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2."

Fans were out in force, some in costume, others just to savor the Butterbeer and other theme foods in the buildup to the movie. Most were taking the end of the immensely popular book and film saga in stride.

Logan McClendon of Mount Pleasant and his companion Amy Allison, a Los Angeles transplant, were among those with the most elaborate and well-thought-out character costumes, the former menacing as a Dementor, the latter fetching as a sorceress.

"I many ways it's all about perception and how it can change people's actions," said Allison, explaining her enduring fascination. "Everything is pitted against Harry Potter, and it's really interesting how the stories reveal how society actually works.

"I was 8 when I read the first book, and now I've read all the books and seen all the movies. I'm really sad that this could be the last one. But Harry Potter lives on."

Amid all the waving of wands, costume contests, face painting and fortune-telling, a gaggle of Cinebarre staffers also were decked out in costume, from wraiths to gypsies to Hogwarts schoolgirls.

Brienna Voss, 17, visiting from Hopkinton, Mass., herself attired as Hogwarts coed, said her imagination had been captured primarily by J.K. Rowling's books.

"Having grown up with them, I was a little sad that this would be the last film of the last book. But we can always re-read the books and watch the films again. It's sad there will be nothing new from now on, but great that this whole community has grown up around it. We can share this with each other and with our children when we are older."

Elsewhere, Tammy Williams of Goose Creek and her daughter Amanda, 20, were eagerly awaiting the raising of the curtain at the Azalea Square Stadium 16 in Summerville.

"My dad found that first 'Harry Potter' book for her before they became popular in the U.S.," Williams recalled. "She was 9, and she read it three or four times. I wondered why, so I started reading it and got hooked myself. So every year there was a little book party at Barnes & Noble, we were always first in line.

"We know what happens in this last movie, of course, but it doesn't matter. Still, I hope Rowling will write a new one."

Reach Bill Thompson at 937-5707.