The weather was perfect for haunting on Friday, Oct. 26. Downtown Weston was busy, with leaves swirling down Main Street and the waning moon still large overhead.
As The Citizen’s resident spooky person, I’ve always done annual Halloween stories, featuring ghost stories, home haunts and my occasional adventures as an actor in commercial haunted houses.
Back in the day, it was far easier to find the home haunts and spooks for pay because people always clammed up when I asked for local ghost stories.
A decade or so ago, visits to the local historical societies were greeted with polite responses that there was “real” history to write about, so why on Earth would I look for ghost stories? Well, for one, it’s the season, but more importantly, because ghost stories are a part of history as well — they provide local color and preserve the folklore of a given area.
One person I could always count on to understand was Verna Kowertz in Weston. Over the years, I’ve hunted ghosts in the Main Street Galleria and listened to her Ghost Tales of Weston back when it started in the Weston Cafe.
So, last Friday I found myself back at the Galleria, this time as a ghost myself. Weston Community Theatre put out a call for volunteers a few weeks ago, looking for people willing to guide groups up and down Main Street for the Haunted Walking Tour held in conjunction with Ghost Tales of Weston.
They were also looking for spooky people — perfect!
If I had a better idea of the format, I would have floated in after dinner in the UpStairs Tea Room got started, so the guests would be a bit more unsuspecting of the undead in their midst.
Luckily, it didn’t seem to matter, since later during the walking tour, several people who chatted with me before dinner would yelp when I sneaked up behind them and loomed.
Spending my night drifting up and down Main Street, lurking in all the best dark corners and befriending the local cats — they can see spirits after all! — I unfortunately missed most of the ghost stories themselves. What I caught was good, though. I’d never heard of the old lady ghost at Benner House or the tragedy of a little drowned boy by Jeff’s Architectural Salvage, but I’ll have to locate the full stories sometime.
Several times I passed by the St. George Hotel, where volunteer Shane Bartee was the storyteller. As he typically sees me at West Platte school board meetings instead of dark street corners, I was able to slip up on him several times for a good scare.
A ghost sighting at the St. George was covered by WDAF Fox 4 over the weekend, with a woman capturing a photo of a ghostly white figure peeking out through a third story window.
I didn’t see it until I was writing this column, and it certainly adds something to the evening, though I swear it wasn’t me in the picture. Honest. Cross my heart and hope to ... oh, too late.
Anyway, by far my favorite experiences of the night had to be at Weston Bend Candle Company.
During my first pass down Main Street, I simply stood outside the door and stared through the window, watching the storytelling unfold inside. While I couldn’t hear exactly what was said, I noticed one of the owners exclaim, “what is that?” and point at me. Hee!
Later on in the evening, I came back and this time went inside. Not only did they have a cute black shop cat, but also I got to linger for a bit, listening in to the owners’ experiences and startling several of the tour-goers and prompting one to shake her finger at me and say, “Okay, you got me again.”
Indeed, I did, but no one held it against me, with several people asking for photos by the end of the night.
I would like to thank Weston Community Theatre for the experience, because I had a blast, and, if the dark stars align, I would love to return to haunt Weston again next year.
Hanging out with the Haunted Tour crew at the Weston Galleria on Friday, Oct. 26. The Ghost Tales of Weston dinner and walking tour were held for four evenings prior to Halloween.