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Posted: March 30, 2011 1:00 a.m.

Vampire fans flock to Covington

Photo by Gabriel Khouli/

Sandra Lesny received an early birthday present from her husband for 2011. And 2012. And 2013. A trip to the EyeCon convention last week in Atlanta to see her favorite stars of the hit TV show "The Vampire Diaries."

She was joined by fans from all around the United States. Lesny is from Bremen, Germany, and she was far from the only foreign citizen to make the trip.

"(The convention) was amazing. It was my first crazy trip," Lesny said Monday. "I was just on Facebook, and I saw EyeCon and thought ‘What is this?’ But my husband had to pay for it, and he said yes, so now I’m here. It was a birthday present for the next three years."

It was at the convention that Lesny befriended Rhonda Thomas from Oklahoma, who convinced Lesny to come out and tour the filming sites in Covington.

Jessica Lowery, the founder of Mystic Falls Tours in Covington, had an influx of tour takers, including visitors from Australia, England, France, Greece and Portugal, among others.

"It was a crazy weekend. I met lots and lots of fans that love the show so much," said Lowery, who was of the convention’s co-sponsors.

Locals might have seen the swarm of fans milling Friday around the square, which is home to some of the show’s most popular sites, the courthouse, the Mystic Grill and Dr. Gilbert’s office.

While non-fans may be surprised about how popular "The Vampire Diaries" is, Lowery’s true shock came in realizing she was

"To see such amazingly large groups was nuts to me. They seemed to be so appreciative. The tours were doing so well I had several of the stars ask me about the tours," she said.

Though the actors know the popularity of the show, Lowery said they expressed surprise that even location tours were in such demand. One of the main actors, Paul Wesley, told Lowery he would try to take a tour on a day he wasn't filming.

Lowery said one of the neat things about this fandom is that many of the fans not only got to meet their favorite stars, but also close friends they had made online through fan sites. One of Lowery's best friends is Amber Davis, who she met on Twitter. The two run the non-profit environmental advocacy group Vampire Support and co-host a radio show.
becoming a celebrity herself.

"It's amazing how many people meet other people and think of themselves as family, not the crazy girl I met on twitter," Lowery said.

"I'm still dumbfounded at this weekend. I never knew when I was laid off from being a teacher, that this was what my life would become," said Lowery, who has been described as a true entrepreneur. "I ask my husband, ‘Aren't you so glad I thought outside of the box?'"

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