FORKS — The Rainforest Arts Center was filled to the gills as close to 600 fans of the movie “Twilight” celebrated the release of the DVD in Forks — the town where the fictional account is set.
“There are about three times as many people as we were originally expecting,” said a bedazzled Annette Root, owner of the shop Dazzled by Twilight, which organized the party.
About 200, mostly females, people managed to cram into the room at a time, while hundreds more lined up around the block — amounting to about 600 fans in the 3,200-population town — waiting for others to filter out so they could get in on the party.
They were treated to a bit of West End culture beyond that described in the series of four best-selling novels by Stephenie Meyer, the first of which was made into a movie last year.
The Quileute Dancers shared portions of their history, including their sacred “Wolf Dance.”
The Quileute tribe figures prominently in the teen romance novels.
The fans, who came from as far away as the East Coast and Hawaii, seemed delighted with the attention paid to the DVD release of “Twilight” — even though none of the film was shot on the West End.
Some local residents drifted around, checking out the unusual party scene in Forks.
Pura Carlson, owner of Chinook Pharmacy, said she had never seen so much traffic in town.
Others were just curious.
Several teen boys from Forks with skateboards were wandering around as people lined up.
“Stephenie Meyer sucks,” some of them shouted, attempting to draw ire from fans.
But no one took the bait — perhaps because the novels are about vampires, which, of course, suck blood.
When asked why they’d bother to stop by if they weren’t fans, the boys said: “Just look at all the girls!”
They then took off in another direction.
Some stores reported visitors from Norway and Australia, but it was Megan McHugh of Pasadena, Md., southeast of Baltimore, who won one of the prizes at the big party for being the visitor who came the farthest.
She won a rose carved out of a cedar tree’s inner bark, an authentic Quileute-made item.
“It was beautiful; I thanked her like a million times,” McHugh said.
She and friend Abby Chester of Alexandria, Va., traveled to Forks to celebrate their beloved books.
The pair had planned the trip in December — long before the DVD release date was set — but were thrilled to find out not only could they buy the movie in Forks, but there would be a party to celebrate the release.
“It was like it was meant to be,” McHugh said.
Is the town anything like they imagined while reading the books?
“It is so much better,” they replied simultaneously.
Chester and McHugh also planned on attempting Leppell’s Flowers and Gifts’ scavenger hunt on Saturday afternoon.
Leppell’s also stayed open late Friday to distribute the DVD, and while business was lower key than the Dazzled by Twilight party, owner Charlene Cross said she was OK with that.
“My main thing is flowers and long after ‘Twilight’ is gone, I’ll still be here selling flowers,” she said.
Nonetheless, Leppel’s had nearly sold out of its DVD copies by 12:30 a.m. Saturday.
At the Dazzled by Twilight party, which began at 10 p.m. on Friday, fans began lining up to get in two hours earlier.
By 8:15 p.m., more than 60 fans had already entered the queue.
By 10 p.m., the line extended around the corner of the block and was about three people wide.
At 11:55 p.m. SEmD just before the DVD was about to be released at the Dazzled by Twilight store — fans were still lined up in the hallway and to the end of the block trying to get into the party.
As a surprise for the fans, Root showed the movie on a large screen in the Rainforest Arts Center beginning at 12:01 a.m.
Fans were then called down to the store in alphabetical order by last name to get their copy of the movie, maintaining order in the small store.
Forks downtown merchants supported the effort by remaining open until 10 p.m., when the party took over attention.
At Chinook Pharmacy, face painter Sonia Simpson made fans sparkle with glitter — to resemble the famed vampires or to get any Twilight-related images painted on.
Simpson traveled from California to help her sister, Pura Carlson, who owns the pharmacy with her husband, and their other sister, Magali Gonzalez, who was showing fans around.
“They are both huge fans of the books,” Carlson said, grinning wide to show off the vampire fangs she wore.
“So they wanted to come help out.”
The pharmacy handed out little first aid packets saying it was Bella’s first stop when she was injured — and as any fan knows, that was often.
From no fan to fan
Susan Robertson, 18, of Oregon City, Ore., stopped by Forks for the first time on Friday.
She said that although she hated the movie the first time she saw it — “The subtle changes really annoyed me, I mean, Edward had a rip in his pants. Edward would never do that,” she said — she’s now a fan of the flick.
“After I saw it the first time, I could relax and just enjoy it and not worry about the changes,” she said.
Fern Gallery co-owner JoAnn Allen said her store had visitors from Norway earlier Friday and had continued to see Twilight fans from throughout the nation.
“This is such a great family thing,” said the other co-owner, Gladys Allen.
“What we hear again and again is that people came for ‘Twilight,’ but they’ll come back because it is so beautiful here.”
Darcie Mayo of Sequim trekked to Forks for the event and said she and her daughter have been longtime fans.
“It is a good, simple love story,” she said.
Although the vast majority of the 600 visitors roaming around Forks on Friday night and Saturday were from out of town, some were homegrown.
Pattie Mason, owner of Pacific Pizza in Forks, stopped by Leppell’s at about half past midnight to get her copy of the DVD.
“I have a feeling I will be up very late tonight,” she said.
The book Twilight, from which the movie was made, is followed by three sequels — New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn.
As for the movie versions, “New Moon” is being released Nov. 20 and “Eclipse” on June 30, 2010.
It is not clear whether the fourth book will be made into a movie.
Just ask 600 fans whether it should.
Reporter Paige Dickerson can be reached at 360-417-3535 or at [email protected]