Twilight tourism visits fall off in Forks, but town keeping its book-movie series hopes alive [ *** GALLERY *** ]
Lonnie Archibald/for Peninsula Daily News
Luke takes photos of his sister, Simone — both of whom were visiting Forks last week — beside pickup trucks that could have been driven by fictional Twilight character Bella Swan, in front of the Forks Visitor Information Center. The 1963 Chevy, right, is the same model pictured in the “Twilight” movie, while the 1953 model is from the book.
A sign at Olympic Suites Inn as travelers enter Forks from the north refers to the vampire love interest in Twilight. Photo by Lonnie Archibald/for Peninsula Daily News.
This sign can be found at various businesses around Forks. Photo by Lonnie Archibald/for Peninsula Daily News.
Merry Parker, office assistant at the Forks Visitor Information Center, points out the world map that has been marked with pins representing Twilight visitors from all over the world. To the left is a map of the United States, also covered with pins. Photo by Lonnie Archibald/for Peninsula Daily News.
A sandwich board outside Chinook Pharmacy at 11 S. Forks Ave. advertises Twilight souvenirs, across the street from Native to Twilight. Photo by Lonnie Archibald/for Peninsula Daily News.
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Driving into town on U.S. Highway 101, it's clear the vampire and werewolf teen romance series has had a major effect.
If entering from the north, the electronic billboard at Olympic Suites Inn, 800 Olympic Drive, has a snarky “Edward Cullen never slept here,” a reference to the vampire love interest in the story author Stephenie Meyer set in Forks.
A billboard on the right welcomes visitors to Twilight Country.
If approaching from the south, the first thing visitors see is not one but two red Chevrolet pickup trucks that could have belonged to Bella Swan — Cullen's mortal girlfriend — parked in front of the Forks Visitor Information Center.
The trucks represent two visions of the pickup, said Marcia Bingham, Forks Chamber of Commerce director.
The 1963 pickup is from the Twilight book, while the 1953 version is the same model pictured in the movie.
The trucks draw fans such as Simone, who was posing with them last Wednesday.
She and her family were visiting for the day so she could see the setting of her favorite book series.
They were among the thousands of fans who visit Forks each month.
The numbers have slipped since Twilight's heyday in Forks two years ago, and one Twilight-themed business, Dazzled by Twilight, closed in January after shuttering its Port Angeles branch last fall.
But other businesses promote the tale.
Many storefronts have some kind of Twilight draw, promising merchandise related to the books or movies.
Several places are dedicated to Twilight, such as Twilight Central at Leppell's Flowers & Gifts at 130 S. Spartan Ave. and day spa and clothing boutique Alice's Closet at 130 Forks Ave., which was named for clothes-obsessed vampire Alice Cullen.
The store Native to Twilight at 10 Forks Ave. is described by the chamber as bringing Twilight's Quileute character Jacob Black's world to life.
The online version of the store — which offers Native crafts from the Quileute, Hoh, Makah and Tulalip tribes — at http://tinyurl.com/7lrv5o9 says it was “deeply inspired” by Meyer's book series.
“If you loved the romance, mystery, and Native American culture of Forks and LaPush as described in Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn, you cannot miss a visit to our shop (either virtual or in Forks),” the website says.
Even the Quillayute Valley School District had to consider the Twilight impact when it made plans to remove the old Forks High School facade and wooden sign, which were popular Twilight landmarks.
The sign was preserved, but only portions of the facade could be saved and are located inside the new school.
The craze started after the first book, Twilight, was published in October 2005, with the unsuspecting town featured only because it was remote and had the most rain in the continental U.S., Meyer wrote on her blog.
It was slow at first, Bingham said.
“The first people came in 2006 and walked in the door kind of sheepishly,” Bingham said.
“They said, ‘We're here because of a book,'” she said.
Now, Bingham said, though Twilight may be the reason for visitors' first visit, it isn't necessarily the draw for their second.
Many return to Forks after a Twilight trip to spend more time at Olympic National Park's Hoh Rain Forest or a Pacific beach, or to fish in the pristine rivers, she said.
“They come for Twilight, but they stay for Forks,” Bingham said.
Last modified: March 11. 2012 6:23PM