'Twilight' helps Forks, Wash., beat the recession

A new Twilight movie, 'New Moon,' opens Nov. 20 and will focus more attention on Forks.

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    Actors Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart starred in the 2008 movie 'Twilight,' which has helped popularize the town of Forks, Wash.
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A Pacific Northwest town – Forks, Wash. – has found one way to beat the recession by cashing in on everything and anything "Twilight" related.

Fans of the popular romance-fantasy novels are flocking to the town of 3,275 residents and two stop lights to view the moss-laden forests and high school where charming vampire Edward Cullen and clumsy, teenage misfit Bella Swan meet and fall in love.

To cater to starry-eyed fans, Forks' Chamber of Commerce launched a van tour that points out spots featured in the Twilight books. The town even created a "reserved" parking spot at the local hospital for the fictional character Dr. Carlisle Cullen.

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Now, a new motion picture based on the four-part saga by author Stephenie Meyer promises to focus further attention on the tiny community, which averages 12 feet (feet!) of rain a year. With "New Moon" due in theaters Nov. 20, the tourist trade is already building, according to Jane Margolies of The New York Times.

Visitors to Forks have more than tripled this year through August compared with the same period last year, according to the local Chamber of Commerce. Most of them stop at Forks Visitor Center, where they "grab maps pinpointing Forks High School, where Bella and Edward first lock eyes in the cafeteria; City Hall, where Bella's police-chief father works; and the driftwood-strewn beach in nearby La Push, where the character Jacob, a member of the local Quileute tribe, first informs Bella that Edward and his family are 'blood drinkers,' " Ms. Margolies writes.

There's a Twilight souvenir shop, Dazzled By Twilight, that carries jewelry (including Bella's engagement ring), oversized calendars of actor Robert Pattinson (who portrays the vampire in the latest movie), and a Twilight coffee blend called "Stay awake with the vampires – Bella's Blend."

Even hotels, such as the Dew Drop Inn Motel and the Pacific Inn Motel, have caught on to the Twilight craze, decorating rooms with Twilight posters, black and red curtains and painted walls, and Twilight towels. Margolies reports that "revenue from hotel occupancy tax is up 26 percent over last year, according to a Forks City Council Member."

Forks isn't the only town that's benefitting from Twilight mania. Port Angeles, Wash., a town northeast of Forks, where Bella has her first dining experience with Edward and shops at a bookstore, has been a draw as well. This year, fans visited the restaurant, Bella Italia, where the couple dine in the first Twilight movie, and purchased 4,500 $17 bowls of mushroom ravioli (which Bella ordered in the movie and the book). Meanwhile, Margolies reports that the bookstore Bella declines to visit because of its new age vibe – Port Book and News – says business has increased by as much as 20 percent.

Amy Farnsworth is a Monitor staff writer. Click below for a look at Forks.

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