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Vampire fans flock to Covington for finale special of 'The Originals'

COVINGTON, Ga. – An estimated 1,500 people weathered the storm Wednesday in Covington to experience the finale of “The Originals,” a spinoff of “The Vampire Diaries,” in the filming location of the show.

Covington/Newton County Chamber of Commerce President Ralph Staffins said visitors traveled from as far as Korea and ranged from senior citizens to teenagers at the event.

“As with ‘The Vampire Diaries,’ ‘The Originals’ fans are phenomenal,” Ron Carter, with the visitor’s center, said. “They’re so happy to be here. They’re thrilled with Covington and the beauty of our town. We are the quintessential southern town. A lot of them have never seen that; they’ve never seen the town square; they’ve never seen the courthouse and things like that.

“They’re just so happy to be here. They’re just great fans.”

Visitors started flocking to the town Sunday and plan to make an entire week out of the trip. The visitor’s center saw 998 people Wednesday for the finale event, which is a little less than The Vampire Diaries’ finale event last year, Carter said.

Cindy Mask, owner of Town Square Olive Oil, said the event was a success for her business.

“We had a wonderful day,” she said. “It was right in line with Fourth of July sales. The customers and visitors were from all over the world. They loved our town and several of them even said they were going to move here. It was a good day and Main Street did a fabulous job.”

Through the weather, Chamber Tourism Director Jenny McDonald said the success of the event was credited to its special guests.

“Even with the rain, I don’t think we lost much in attendance because they stood in the rain,” she said. “This is the first time ever that we have had any cast members, much less having 17, and then having the creator of all three shows coming to do the Q&A. That’s never happened.”

Viewing the finale in the Covington square has become a tradition for fans of the vampires.

“People love watching the finale in the square,” she said. “We were already having people ask six months ago if we were going to do a viewing party before we even announced that we were going to have any cast members. I think we still would have had a great event even if we wouldn’t have had any of the cast members to be honest with you.”

McDonald said the cast members also enjoyed the event because it was like a reunion back in their hometown, which is different than most of the fan conventions they usually attend. 

"Regardless of the rain, I would call it a success," McDonald said. "We had a few hiccups, but that's expected of an event that size and having that many cast members. It's a feat to pull off."

Staffins said the event would not have been possible without the help from chamber partners, like the city of Covington, Covington Police Department and the Covington road department. 

"It takes the whole community to pull something like this off and I think that's why people love coming here because it is just the charm of Covington," he said. "It's not something that we put on, it is just something that comes out naturally and it shows."

"The Originals" was a spinoff of "The Vampire Diaries," which was set in Mystic Falls, Virginia and filmed in downtown Covington. A spinoff to "The Originals," "Legacies" has been confirmed on The CW to air in October. 

"Julie (Plec, executive producer of 'TVD,' 'The Originals' and 'Legacies') made a big push for 'Legacies' and she gave out some hints about it being in Mystic Falls," McDonald said. "I think it is going to be like 'The Vampire Diaries' and we'll just come full circle and we're back in Mystic Falls.

"I think we're going to keep the fandom alive. It's going to be the same fanbase as 'The Vampire Diaries' and a mixture of 'The Originals."'