By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News
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The annual celebration of all things Twilight, set on the birthday of Bella Swan, the female lead in the Twilight books and movies — but named after author Meyer — drew at least 737 people last Friday, Saturday and Sunday, said Marcia Bingham, Forks Chamber of Commerce director.
That number represents only those who signed in at the Forks Visitor Center.
Bingham could not provide exact comparisons to attendance figures for past years but estimated the turnout was one of the biggest in the celebration's six-year history.
“I would call it a very successful weekend,” Bingham said. “There were people everywhere.”
A wide range of ages was represented across the three-day event, Bingham said.
There were as many middle-aged women as teenage girls, Bingham said.
This year's event also saw more male fans then in years past, something Bingham said she was more than a little surprised to see.
“That just tickled me to see more [men] coming in,” she said.
The festivities featured “Twilight”-themed vendors, displays of props and costumes from the movies and, the centerpiece of the weekend, a Saturday evening wedding and reception for Edward Cullen and Bella Swan, the two main characters of the saga.
Charlene Cross, owner of Leppell's Flowers & Gifts/Twilight Central and organizer of the mock wedding, said roughly 250 people attended the ceremony and reception, with about half being first-timers to Stephenie Meyer Day.
The wedding and reception were supposed to run from 9 p.m. to midnight, but Cross said some fans stuck around to mingle even past the allotted time.
Cross said she tried to speak with as many people as possible and reported that most were elated with the presentation of the ceremony.
The desire to live out events found in the Twilight books and movies is one of the things that most amazes Bingham.
“Twi-hards,” as they're sometimes called, show intense loyalty to the story line and characters, something Bingham said she's glad numerous Forks vendors have become a part of.
“Our merchants have done a fabulous job of perpetuating that,” Bingham said.
Stephenie Meyer herself visited Forks in 2006 — the year before the first Stephenie Meyer Day — but has not been back since.
Despite that, Bingham said the Forks community is happy to honor a woman who has had a tremendously positive impact on the city of 3,500.
“We honor her without her being present,” Bingham said.
“And we honor her for the industry she has created here.”
Though this November brings reportedly the last movie in the “Twilight” saga, trends from previous years suggest that next summer will see an influx of fans, their appetites freshly whetted from seeing the movie in fall.
“The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn 2” premieres in theaters Nov. 16.
Additionally, Bingham said she thinks the Twilight phenomenon has staying power that will keep fans visiting Forks for years to come.
The saga allows numerous generations of a single family — mothers, daughters and grandmothers — to bond over the themes contained in the stories, she said.
“I do not see this dying out,” Bingham said.
Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.