By Paige Dickerson, Peninsula Daily News
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That was the message printed on luggage tags sold in Tillicum Park by TwilightMom member Lucy Crow, one of several vendors offering Twilight memorabilia to the nearly 1,000 fans of the series of novels about teen love and vampires who converged on the small town Saturday.
Most of fans celebrating Stephenie Meyer Day — and fictional character Isabella Swan's 20th birthday — had the same refrain: "I just love all of the characters."
From a group of about 200 fans who are members of the site TwilightMOMS.com to the hundreds of teens, tweens and adults from throughout the United States and Canada all had one goal — to be closer to the supposed real-life haunts of their beloved fictional characters.
Stephenie Meyer Day, named after the author of the four-novel series, kicked off with breakfast at the Congregational Church, just across from Forks High School — where mortal Isabella Swan met her vampire boyfriend, Edward Cullen — and ended with a bonfire in LaPush.
"To those of you who have found your Edward, and to those of you who are still looking, I wish you a very happy day," said Mayor Nedra Reed, after formally declaring the the third annual Stephenie Meyer Day, and the second annual celebration.
Said Marcia Bingham, executive director of the Forks Chamber of Commerce, the primary organizers: "We had at least 900 to 1,000 people here today. It has been unbelievable.
"I am so proud that the Chamber of Commerce could be the instigator for this day."
The books, which have been on the USA Today best-seller list since early 2007, detail Bella's move from Phoenix to rainy Forks, to live with her police chief father — Charlie Swan — and her subsequent love affair with the mysterious vampire, Edward.
High school tours
On Saturday, Forks High School seniors took hundreds of fans on tours of the school — following Bella's daily schedule that ended with her biology class.
It was in the biology classroom where Bella first encountered her bloodsucking soul mate.
The crowd, made mostly of teen and early 20s females, swooned at the thought that they were in the very place where Edward took his classes.
The first tour of the day brought together people from Idaho Falls, Idaho, Lethbridge, Alberta, Kirkland, Port Angeles, San Diego and Hawaii.
Forks High School senior Denise Gibbs led the tour, showing off classrooms that could have been Bella's classrooms, and her designated locker.
Afterward the group of about 25 — a line of more than 100 was outside and had to be broken into smaller, more manageable groups — had a chance to ask Gibbs some questions.
"Do you guys really go to First and Second beaches?" one asked.
"Yeah, we do drive down to both quite a bit," Gibbs told the group.
She added that although sometimes it seemed like there wasn't much to do in Forks from her perspective, she could see how intriguing it was to tourists new to the area.
Two large cakes were cut and served with red, black and white icing — the colors dominating the four books in the series.
TwilightMoms, who helped organize the event, also staffed booths at Tillicum Park to sell Twilight memorabilia ranging from luggage tags — helpful for those who flew in for the occasion — to jewelry.
Crow, 27, said she had made her "What Obsession?" luggage tags to sell them on the TwilightMoms.com Web site.
"But I thought I'd bring them here, and now they are helping to finance my trip."
Crow had never been to Forks before, but she hopes to return.
"I would move here if I could," she said.
Vendors from the North Olympic Peninsula were also on hand at the park throughout the day.
Allison DeMatteis, owner of the Smoke House Restaurant north of Forks, sold jewelry, T-shirts and candles.
"We just started doing it recently," she said, adding that fans were constantly asking if the Smoke House was The Lodge where Bella ate after her graduation.
Although she hasn't read the books, she said they are on her to be read list.
"Everything I know I learned from my customers," she said.
Nearly every storefront in town had some sort of Twilight reference — from shirts for sale with related slogans to Peninsula College offering information for those who want to go to college near the rain forest.
"Nearly everyone has been wonderful, and has been enthusiastic about the town getting the attention and about their business getting the attention," Bingham said.
"I am sure that we will have to make this an annual event."
Fans faced off in a contest to see who looked the most like Bella, Edward and Jacob, the three main characters.
Kriston Taylor, 25, of Shelton was deemed the best Bella.
"I really fell in love with these characters," she said.
"You can't get any better than Edward."
Owen Kajfasz, a Port Angeles High School 2008 graduate, was honored as the most like Edward — and was quickly swamped by fans of the character wanting photo ops.
Although he said he wasn't a huge fan of the books — four of his (all female) friends talked him into going to the event — he has read the first three books.
"They are interesting," he said.
Lucio Gonzalez, 16, of LaPush was dubbed the best Jacob for the day, and was immediately swept away for photo opportunities as well.
Danielle Wells, 17, of Plano, Texas, won an official Bella Bracelet from a raffle benefiting Twilighters for Forks.
Twilighters for Forks is a nonprofit organization that is trying to raise money to save the facade or building of the condemned portion of the Forks High School.
Donations to Twilighters For Forks can be mailed to P.O. Box 2431, Forks WA 98331, or made through twilightlexicon,com.
"I'm a huge, huge fan," Wells said.
"I didn't want to read them at first, but then on a Disney World trip I read all three of the first ones at least two times."
Five Portland, Ore., women — Nicole Donner, Rachel Kramer, Anna Kramer, Janelle Lopes and Ally Rice — were in town for the second time this year.
"We were here in March, and found out about this event," Donner said.
"We booked hotels right then and there, because we knew we had to come out for the event."
The four have an online Podcast called Twilighters Anonymous in which they discuss the books, characters and movie at www.tapodcast.com.
"We just got hooked on how awesome the books were," Donner said.
Twilight, the first in the series, is No. 1 on the most recent USA Today best-seller list, which is based on sales through Sept. 7.
New Moon, the second in the series, is second on the list, while Breaking Dawn, the concluding volume, is third. Eclipse is fifth.
"Twilight," the movie — none of which was filmed in Forks — will be released on Nov. 21.
Reporter Paige Dickerson can be reached at 360-417-3535 or firstname.lastname@example.org.