‘Twilight’ shines bright where it all began: Port Angeles a cool spot for Twihards

PORT ANGELES — For three days now, First Street has been the planet’s cool, moist place to be for Twilight fans.

The fictional vampire Edward Cullen did it, by taking his sweetheart Bella Swan to dinner at a restaurant named Bella Italia, and then by appearing, in the person of actor Robert Pattinson, in what looks to be the cinema sensation of the season.

“Twilight” dazzlement started at 5 a.m. Thursday when fans began lining up for the midnight premiere of the movie at the Lincoln Theater at the corner of First and Lincoln streets.

And on it blazed, through the ensuing damp, cold days and nights.

Neil Conklin, owner of Bella Italia at 118 E. First St., cooked up mushroom ravioli — a la Bella’s first meal with Edward — and served tastes to everyone in Thursday’s midnight-movie line.

Then on Friday afternoon, he gathered his full 12-member crew to serve the parties of 10, 12, 20 and more who came from Ohio, Texas, California and Nova Scotia.

These are the Twihards, as Conklin knows them.

Twist of fate

A twist of fate — and Google — led Twilight author Stephenie Meyer to his restaurant earlier this decade.

On Friday, Conklin got a phone call from a friend in an Italian movie theater. She was watching “Twilight,” and just wanted to marvel with him a little bit.

The mortal Bella’s first date with her vampire paramour, portrayed in Meyer’s 2005 novel, continues to feed an international hunger for a particular brand of forbidden love.

The series of four books has sold more than 17 million copies worldwide, and translation rights have been sold in 37 countries.

Fans carry on discussions at 350 Web sites such as www.TwilightersAnonymous.com and www.TwilightMoms.com.

Droves of Twilighters have come to Clallam County this year; Meyer herself visited Bella Italia in June.

The craze hit a fresh pinnacle Friday as travelers stationed themselves in the Lincoln line or got directions to Forks, the books’ primary setting.

Conklin learned his restaurant played a role in Bella and Edward’s romance only about a year and a half ago.

His sister’s in-laws are fans of the saga, so when they followed the Twilight trail, they of course blew in to Bella Italia.

Looking up at Seattle’s KIRO-TV’s transmission antenna over First Street on Friday, Conklin said he hopes this global phenomenon gives his community a much-needed transfusion of travelers — and locals — hungry for the movie, meals and memories.

“It’s not often we see the KIRO van here for a good reason,” he added.

All along the Bella block, girls and moms scurried.

They lined up for the Twilight matinees at the Lincoln, 132 E. First St. and Pounced on I Love Edward Cullen Fan Club T-shirts at Twisted, 108 E. First St.

And they nearly swooned beside the Conrad Dyar Memorial Fountain, where life-size cutouts of Edward and Bella posed beneath the Christmas tree at Laurel and First.

They mooned too over the “Twilight Movie Companion” and the boxed set of all four “Twilight” novels — 2,446 pages of Bella and Edward for $83 — at Port Book and News, 104 E. First St.

They seized ceramic apples and “Twilight” commemorative coasters given away by Rosalynn Rees, owner of the do-it-yourself pottery- and glass-painting studio Aglazing Art at 713 E. First St.

A Bella and Edward look-alike contest netted prizes for Sarah Doty of Sequim and David Rivers of Port Angeles on Saturday.

Also on Saturday, two gothic fashion shows — at Elks Naval Lodge and at the Laurel and First street fountain — showed off designs from area businesses.

Next weekend: Santa

While this weekend is given over to “Twilight,” the next will be about Christmas tree light, said Port Angeles Downtown Association executive director Barbara Frederick.

Santa Claus will replace Edward, arriving by motorcycle to help switch on the fountain tree’s 6,000 bulbs at around 4 p.m. next Saturday.

Might the Twihards feel a post-film letdown after all of this?

That seems unlikely, since several who attended Friday’s premiere on Friday vowed to see the movie again with friends, spouses and grandparents.

And a Nov. 14 article in The Hollywood Reporter noted that Summit Entertainment, producer of “Twilight,” has hired its screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg to compose scripts based on the series’ second and third books, New Moon and Eclipse.

Jan Fuller, who with her daughter Noelle runs Twisted, a store replete with Twilight paraphernalia, reveled in Port Angeles’ moment.

“People here feel like they live on the edge of the Earth,” she said. “It’s nice when somebody notices us.”

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Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-681-2391 or at [email protected]

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