It’s almost October and my favorite time of the year. Not only is fall beautiful, there is football, changing leaves, and of course Halloween also to be enjoyed. Halloween is just fun as it gives us the chance to dress up as whatever alter ego we choose and become someone else for a while. With the nights becoming ever chillier, there is always the occasion to sit around a warm fire with friends and loved ones and just talk and sometimes great ghost stories are shared. Some of my best childhood memories are of such times. I loved listening to the sound of my mother’s voice as she told us paranormal encounters pasted down from her own life and other family members. Some were funny and others intense but they all served to build an identity that I could rely on later. Today around the US not only are their spook allies, haunted houses and corn mazes, many communities are sponsoring local haunted history tours. These tours are tons of fun and serve a greater purpose in the building of local traditions and community.
In October of 2009, I (and my paranormal organization SEIPO) hosted in conjunction with Old Town Pocatello, Inc. the first Haunted History Tour in our community. I worked with the Old Town Pocatello’s executive director who has extensive experience hosting community events. As I talked with her, I asked how she thought the event would be received and she replied that it would be fun but that expectations for a new event should be kept in check. We decided on two nights and a total of two hundred tickets. With no real budget we began to choose our locations and make a few flyers. The original two hundred tickets sold out a month before the event so we added another one hundred tickets which were gone within a week. It is hard to speculate, but I feel comfortable saying that around five hundred people we returned away for tickets and probably the number was closer to a thousand. I felt sorry for the executive director who had to deal with several irate individuals who could not get tickets.
The tour itself was an eye opening experience. The majority of people took the tour for entertainment but there were also many who came looking for answers or maybe just someone to talk to about personal experiences. Both nights I had tour guests recount personal paranormal experiences in tears and in some cases for the first time, even before family. These conversations almost universally begin like, “I never have talked about this, but I knew you would understand”. More than anything the individuals on the tour showed me that the paranormal happens, it is more common than anyone would admit, and these experiences have deeply impacted the lives of those having them. In our society today there are limited forums where one can go to talk about experiences without fear of ridicule or a medication recommendation, yet they are ubiquitous which is why I see a need for a serious forum for paranormal experiences and discussion. Paranormal curiosity is like an iceberg among the general public, a little we can see-the majority under the surface.
Ghostology, in a small way, is designed for this purpose to open the eyes of readers to the truth that much more exists beyond what we can touch, see or taste. During those Haunted History Tours, I was filled with immense satisfaction to witness others explore the possibilities, think beyond their everyday lives and consider amazing alternatives left dormant since youthful campouts and family chats of the past. At the least, I met many who simply learned more about their communities and were unexpectedly excited to know they belonged to such a rich past and heritage. I hope haunted history tours, walks or buses become traditional and popular Halloween attractions everywhere. If your community does not have one-think about starting one! They will benefit your community and you will see they expose the iceberg of curiosity for the paranormal.