Visitor bureau vamping it up with online contest
Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Actor Sean Peck-Collier, left, and Mary Brelsford, communications manager for the Olympic Peninsula Visitor Bureau, are part of the team behind the “Ask Our Vampire” online “Twilight”-themed visitor information service.
By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
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Known simply as “Daniel,” he is billed as the North Olympic Peninsula's very own vampire, answering questions from visitors about life as a vampire on the North Olympic Peninsula — from Forks weather patterns to vampiric habits — on the blog “Ask Our Vampire.”
The questions and answers aren't typical tourism fare, due to the region's connection to a famous vampire romance series and sense of humor displayed by North Olympic Peninsula tourism officials.
One website visitor asked Daniel if he lived on the Peninsula in the '70s.
“Do you mean the 1870s, or the 1970s? Either way, yes,” was the answer.
Ask Our Vampire is part of a sweepstakes promotion, inspired by Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series of vampire and werewolf romance books set in Forks, LaPush and Port Angeles, which have drawn more than 40,000 visitors to the Peninsula since 2008.
The sweepstakes contest will award a six-night trip for four to the Olympic Peninsula to a winner chosen at random from those who ask a question of the vampire.
The trip includes airfare on Alaska Airlines from locations in the United States and Canada — people living elsewhere are not eligible — a car rental, two nights at the Quileute Oceanside Resort in LaPush, two nights at Lake Crescent Lodge and two nights at the Red Lion Hotel in Port Angeles.
Winners also will receive gift certificates to Forks Outfitters in Forks, a sunset tour of Forks and LaPush from Team Forks, a kayak trip through Adventures through Kayaking in Port Angeles, and meals at two Port Angeles eateries — a local farm-fare lunch at Renaissance cafe and dinner at Bella Italia Restaurant.
The trip can be Twilight-themed or simply visit to the Peninsula's natural wonders, depending on the winner's personal preference and choice of local sightseeing options.
Other sponsors of the contest are 7 Cedars Casino in Blyn, Expedition Northwest in Port Angeles and The Pacific Inn, Native to Twilight and A Cozy River House in Forks.
The contest, which began Feb. 27, will end at midnight Thursday.
Forks Visitors Center has registered an average of about 40,000 visitors a year since the first book in the Twilight series was published in 2005, and the last movie in the series, “Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2,” opened in November.
No one knows how many visitors never register or pass through the area uncounted, officials have said.
The writers behind Daniel consist of Mary Brelsford, the communications manager for the tourism commission, who came up with the contest idea and who answers general questions about the Peninsula; and Marcia Bingham of the Forks Chamber of Commerce, who iis tasked with answering Forks and vampire-based questions.
Sean Peck-Collier, a Sequim-based actor, plays the part of Danielin photos and video guides to the Peninsula, filmed by Sequim cinematographer John Gussman.
“I'm the voice for their words,” Peck-Collier said.
Questions for Daniel are posted and answered on a Facebook page, and the first question asked by a poster becomes an entry for the contest.
“People ask the darnedest things, and they pretty much do it tongue-in-cheek,” Bingham said, adding that the questioners “are getting responses in kind.”
“Above everything else about the Olympic Peninsula, what is your favorite thing about where you live?” Daniel was asked on the blog.
“The sunsets in the summer are very beautiful — and they attract humans,” Daniel replied.
“What is it like to live in Forks now that the books have made it known around the world,” he was asked.
“More lunch choices now,” he replied.
“It's really fun to see what they want to play with,” Bingham said.
“I've thoroughly enjoyed it.”
The campaign to make the North Olympic Peninsula more visible to potential visitors has some solid numbers to show for Bingham and Brelsford's efforts.
When the campaign began, only 485 people had “liked” the 1-year-old Olympic Peninsula account.
As of Sunday afternoon, there were 15,973 “likes” for the travel-based Facebook page, plus Facebook counted more than 4,000 individual Facebook members actively “talking about” the Olympic Peninsula on their pages, and the numbers continue to grow daily.
There were about 2,000 entries to the contest as of Friday.
“I am just amazed at the response. I knew it would be cool, but I had no idea it would be so big,” Brelsford said Friday.
Entries can be made online at www.olympicpeninsula.org and at http://twilightontheolympicpeninsula.com/.
A Facebook account is required for contest registration.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Managing Editor Leah Leach contributed to this story.
Last modified: March 24. 2013 6:13PM