By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
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Just in case anyone forgot about Twilight, Forks' annual Stephenie Meyer Day — which is actually three days of events beginning today — brings the best-selling vampire romance back into the forefront, as the residents of Forks celebrate fictional character Bella Swan's Sept. 13 birthday.
To recognize her birthday, there will be a birthday party and cake at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Stephenie Meyer Day stage in the vendor area along Spartan Avenue, a block south of Forks Avenue, between A and D streets.
In the series of best-selling novels by Meyer — and the movies the books spawned — Bella, who would be 23 on Tuesday if she were real, moved to Forks as a high school junior and met Edward Cullen and his “family” of vampires.
Most of the events in the vampire romance series take place in Forks, LaPush or Port Angeles.
That has drawn fans of the best-selling book series and blockbuster movie series to the North Olympic Peninsula in droves.
Forks has embraced the series, and its fans, with open arms.
“It's definitely given us a shot in the arm,” said Charlene Leppell, owner of Twilight Central/Leppell's Flower and Gifts at 130 S. Spartan Ave. in Forks, a shop that specializes in unique Twilight items.
“It gave us a little bit of a reprieve from the recession,” Leppell said.
To recognize the author's contribution to the community, the Forks Chamber of Commerce designated the weekend nearest Bella's birthday as Stephenie Meyer Day.
Unfortunately for Twilight fans who may attend the event hoping for the rain and oppressive gloom described in the books, the weekend is forecast to be sunny and warm, with highs in the low to mid-80s — causing any vampires among them to sparkle and shine.
Meyer selected Forks as Bella's home in Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn because an Internet search showed it to be the wettest, grayest town in the lower 48 states.
Meyer wrote the first book in the series in 2003.
On her website, www.stepheniemeyer.com, Meyer said:
“For my setting, I knew I needed someplace ridiculously rainy. I turned to Google, as I do for all my research needs, and looked for the place with the most rainfall in the U.S.
“I pulled up maps of the area and studied them, looking for something small, out of the way, surrounded by forest. . . . And there, right where I wanted it to be, was a tiny town called ‘Forks.'”
Meyer never laid eyes on Forks until after she completed Twilight and took a trip to her imagined world in 2004.
“It was eerily similar to my imaginings,” she wrote.
“Walking down Main Street, shopping at the Thriftway (I still have that receipt!), driving up side streets until we found a house that could have been Charlie's, and then turning the car around only to find a beat-up, once-red, early-'50s Chevy truck parked across the road.”
Charlie, Bella's father, gave Bella a once-red, early '50s Chevy pickup in Twilight.
On the mind of many Twilight fans — and Forks merchants — is Bella's upcoming nuptials in the Nov. 18 release of the movie, “Breaking Dawn: Part 1.”
To recognize the impending wedding, a bridal shower in Swan's honor will be held tonight at Alice's Closet at 130 Forks Ave.
The business, named for the character Alice Cullen — a vampire who is obsessed with clothes — will host a bridal shower, which will be attended by actors playing the roles of several of the most popular characters from the books and movies.
“We'll have silly bridal shower games, like making a toilet-paper wedding gown,” said Staci Chastain, owner of Alice's Closet.
Bridal favors and Twilight-themed prizes will be awarded during the event.
The gathering began as a small gathering for a few visitors who arrived early but has grown into a major event, Chastain said.
“We've had more than 70 confirmations on Facebook.com,” she said.
Hannah and Hilly Hindi
Among the luminaries who will attend the celebration are Hannah and Hilly Hindi, creators of The Hillywood Show, which presents parodies of big box office films such as “Twilight” on www.thehillywoodshow.com.
The two will talk with fans about parody, script writing and filming during a literary symposium from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
At 3 p.m., they will join designer John Henson, owner of The Twilight Costume Collection, for photo opportunities and discussions about costuming and screen their “Twilight,” “New Moon” and “Eclipse” parodies.
Mail a souvenir
The Forks Post Office will offer a special cancellation, “Vampire Station,” while the LaPush Post Office will have a special cancellation, “Treaty Line Station.”
The event will be at Tillicum Park. The retail mobile van will be there to sell souvenir envelopes.
For those who may accompany Twilight fans to Forks but may not want to be part of the Twilight events, there is no need to despair.
One of the ideas behind scheduling Stephenie Meyer Day on this particular weekend was to give these visitors other options they might prefer, Leppell said.
West End Thunder
The final 2011 West End Thunder drag race meet will take place Saturday and Sunday at the Forks Municipal Airport, with races beginning at 10 a.m. each day.
The drag meet will include the fifth annual Nostalgia Drags and the NW BB Funnycar Association.
Admission will be $10, with 12 and younger admitted free.
Also, softball enthusiasts can enjoy the 27th annual West End Invitational Co-ed Softball Tournament at Tillicum Park.
For those more interested in gastronomic fire, the Hungry Bear Cafe in Beaver, 15 miles northwest of Forks on U.S. Highway 101, will host a chili cookoff.
A new book, with more than 200 images from the past, also will make its debut.
Images of America: Forks, a history in photographs, delves into Forks' pre-Twilight times.
Three book-signings are slated from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. today, Saturday and Sunday at Chinook Pharmacy, 11 S. Forks Ave.
The paperback sells for $21.99 at the pharmacy; at Forks Outfitters, 950 S. Forks Ave.; and at local bookstores.
Written by Larry Burtness and Forks Forum editor Chris Cook with photos from the Forks Timber Museum, the book covers the early logging years and pioneers, as well as life in Forks during and after World War II.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-417-3535 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.