SAN DIEGO — There is a small patch of green known as the “Park in the Park” that exists near San Diego’s Petco Park, where the city’s baseball team usually plays to a cheering crowd. Park in the Park is a designated area for attendees who want to catch a game without breaking their wallets; it’s a picturesque space with a wonderful city view. And during Saturday night’s lunar eclipse, San Diegans lined up to celebrate the upcoming movie "Twilight Saga: Eclipse," which hits theaters nationwide on Wednesday, June 30th.
San Diego is one of several cities (see our coverage in Phoenix and Denver) chosen nationwide to host Summit Entertainment’s "Twilight Night." It’s free event that includes a double feature of the first two movies ("Twilight" and "New Moon"), guest appearances from the cast, live music, and exclusive sneak peeks of "Twilight Saga: Eclipse."
Whether you’re a fan or not of Stephanie Meyer’s explosive vampiric series, there is little doubt as to the significant impact its followers have in pop culture right now. An event such as "Twilight Night" is proof positive the franchise is not slowing down any time soon. In San Diego, fans camped out the previous night just for the chance of being inches closer to a Cullen or to support the Quileute werewolf tribe known as "The Wolf Pack."
The Park closed its iron gates off to the public after reaching maximum capacity in less than an hour. Several families who arrived late stood (literally) on the outside looking in. Some pleaded by explaining, "I left work hours early for thisâ€¦" or "I won’t get too close." Children cried; parents threw tantrums, but all were rejected admission.
Usually a fanaticism left for rock stars and concert tours, "Twilight" is one of the few pop phenomenons which continues to bring in droves of people and cause hysterics. Proper planning at events like "Twilight Night" is crucial in maintaining safe crowd control and ensuring a good time. The organization at Park in the Park from all parties involved was great, and easily could have turned into mayhem without their efforts. As for the fans, their energy added to the electric atmosphere as they waited for the cast appearances. Many walked around proudly in black shirts with the words "Twilight Saga: Eclipse" written across their chests in the trademark "Twilight" font face. Whispers and sighs from many of the younger fans could be heard as they debated over their favorite characters. Some even took it a step further and wore the "bite mark" prosthetics which showed more than the classic two, small dotted marks of a vampire; it looked as you would expect a real bite to appear: bloody, fleshy, and slightly gory.
Hosting the event was Jenna Busch from Moviefone and Quddus best known for his previous work in MTV’s "Total Request Live (TRL)." Fans even cheered them on as they set up for their live event, showing their love isn’t just left for the stars of the films. Local San Diego band War Stories set off festivities playing a live set to a frenzied crowd which could be heard easily within several city blocks, perking the curiosity of many locals who stepped over to the gates to catch a glimpse. The music of War Stories is reminiscent of band Interpol but with the lead singer, Evan Robinson, blasting out amazing vocals it feels as if he were channeling Michael Hutchence from INXS. Their song "Insecure Boyfriend" was a highlight, and judging by the audience reaction they’ve got themselves a whole slew of new fans.
As War Stories’ performance came to an end, the focus quickly shifted to the main stage area where Busch prepared to go live on air. Meanwhile Quddus connected with several select attendees whose questions were sent to Taylor Lautner, Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart.
It was worth the wait as members of the cast made their way onto the red carpet, and fans reacted with a swirl of ardent screams. Edi Gathegi (vampire Laurent) was originally schedule to appear but could not attend at the last minute. In his place was the lovely Christian Serratos, who plays Forks’ human resident, Angela Weber. Joining her was none other than Dr. Carlisle Cullen himself: Peter Facinelli.
Serratos wore her long brown hair in a simple braid. Dressed in a white strapless gown, she looked exquisite despite the chilly weather.
Peter Facinelli followed shortly afterwards sporting a dark ‘do, a change from Dr. Cullen’s trademark blonde hair. He dressed casually in dark denim and leather jacket while carrying a smile for all the fans. When Facinelli was asked about making it to San Diego, the crowd burst into screams, and the actor couldn’t help but note the audience attendance was as enthusiastic as the "Twilight: Eclipse" LA premiere days ago.
As soon as their time on camera was finished, both Serratos and Facinelli took an extended amount of time to sign autographs, and chat briefly with some of the people at the front. It’s the cast’s patience and respect for fans that makes the film so successful. There was even a moment were Facinelli held a baby, making him appear more like a politician than actor.
Yet the most dramatic turn was about to unfold as a sudden stillness spread through the crowd, and a stretcher was brought in by some medics. Although it’s uncertain exactly the cause for the situation, it appeared one of the fans may have passed out while Facinelli came by to sign autographs. After the situation was resolved, and no serious injury caused, the crowd returned to its excited state, proving again that nothing holds back a good time at a "Twilight" event.
"Twilight Saga: Eclipse" will be the last film of the year as the final installment "Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn" won’t start production until 2011.
"Eclipse" hits theaters and IMAX June 30.