‘Vam­pire Di­aries’ re­turns for fifth-sea­son film­ing

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - GABRIEL KHOULI gkhouli@cov­news.com

Vam­pires are re­turn­ing to Cov­ing­ton this week to kick off the fifth-sea­son of film­ing for “The Vam­pire Di­aries,” which has turned into one of tele­vi­sion’s most pop­u­lar dra­mas and has turned Cov­ing­ton into a boom­ing tourism des­ti­na­tion.

The CW Net­work show will be film­ing scenes Fri­day on the square for its sea­son pre­miere, in­clud­ing a big “end-of-sum­mer” bar­be­cue event with sev­eral pic­nic ta­bles, a sound­stage and lots of ex­tras, ac­cord­ing to lo­cal of­fi­cials.

Film­ing will last from noon Fri­day un­til 2 a.m. Satur­day. There will be in­ter­mit­tent traf­fic delays on the square from 2-7 p.m. Fri­day, and the square will be closed from 7 p.m.- 2 a.m.

Cov­ing­ton has played the part of Mys­tic Falls, Va., the main fic­tional town in “The Vam­pire Di­aries,” for the past five years, and nu­mer­ous other sites around New­ton County have been used over the years.

“We love work­ing in Cov­ing­ton - the peo­ple are su­per-friendly and it’s a beau­ti­ful town,’’ said Pas­cal Ver­schooris, a co-ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer who is based in At­lanta.

Ver­schooris said the new sea­son will fea­ture some new twists.

“Sea­son five is ex­cit­ing be­cause we’re set­ting up for a whole new sit­u­a­tion for Elena,’’ he said by email Thurs­day.

The con­tin­u­a­tion of the show is also big news for some lo­cal com­pa­nies..

Jessica Low­ery has been run­ning Mys­tic Falls Tours since the show be­gan and has seen her busi­ness grow into a boom­ing en­ter­prise.

This year is big for the fran­chise, as the spinoff se­ries “The Orig­i­nals” is also kick­ing off and will film mainly in Cony­ers, with some film­ing in Cov­ing­ton as well. Low­ery al­ready has cre­ated a tour based on “The Orig­i­nals” as well.

“It’s so crazy how much we’ve grown since sea­son one. We’ve gone from hav­ing two peo­ple a tour to hav­ing 30 peo­ple a tour. It’s still nuts to me. Peo­ple come from so many dif­fer­ent places; who would’ve thought that would hap­pen?” Low­ery said Thurs­day.

Her tours for Satur­day were al­ready sold out. Low­ery said the tours stay pretty packed all year long, but stay busier dur­ing the film­ing sea­son, which lasts from July through May.

One of the busi­nesses that sees a boost is Square Perk. While sum­mer is gen­er­ally a slower pe­riod for the cof­fee shop, owner An­drea Smith said the film­ing def­i­nitely in­creases busi­ness. She plans to stay open late Fri­day, prob­a­bly un­til around midnight.

base, which is world­wide, for said. “The cou­ple of times we’ve men­tioned on our Face­book page that ‘The Vam­pire Di­aries’ will be here shoot­ing, it’s gone vi­ral … we’re very ex­cited they’re back,” Smith said.

Based on num­bers from the Cov­ing­ton-New­ton County Vis­i­tor’s Cen­ter, an­nual tourism has con­tin­ued to in­crease since the show first came to town, ap­prox­i­mately dou­bling to 25,000 tourists in 2012. With 12,000 tourists hav­ing ar­rived through the end of June this year, the county is see­ing an 18 per­cent in­crease com­pared with last year’s pace.

Gabriel Khouli /The Cov­ing­ton News

Union work­ers hang up lights on the square Thurs­day in prepa­ra­tion for film­ing for the pre­miere of the fifth sea­son of “The Vam­pire Di­aries.”

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