Scare Up Some Halloween Fun
By Kate Rader
A chill fills the air… is it the crisp wind of Autumn, or something else, lurking in the shadows? In a region steeped in history, one might wonder just what happened to all those souls laid to rest. It is said that on Halloween, the time of year when the veil between our world and the next thins, the souls of the dead just may be allowed to cross over and bring blessings—or wreak havoc—before the end of the day on November 1.
It’s no coincidence that Halloween, Samhain, and Día De Muertos (the Day of the Dead) all occur on October 31, the halfway point between the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice. Traditionally, bonfires were lit and believed to have cleansing and protective powers. Places were set at the table for lost loved ones who were believed to revisit their earthly homes seeking hospitality.
Celebrating the mysteries of Halloween can take many forms. Whether you’re hoping to connect with the other side or just looking for some ghoulish fun, we’ve got you covered with these area attractions. Indeed, the Tri-state is a playground for both the living and the dead.
HISTORY AND MYSTERY
A phantom army marches through the streets, preparing for a war that never came. A church is haunted by a bloody Civil War soldier who died there from his wounds. A woman, on fire, runs into the path of an oncoming train. A town of deep historical importance, Harper’s Ferry, WV, holds a treasure trove of secrets.
From its early Native American roots to the Civil War, Harper’s Ferry has played a pivotal role in conflict—with a long, bloody past that is reflected in the amount of paranormal activity that happens there. Rick Garland is the owner of Ghost Tours of Harpers Ferry, which operates several days a week year-round. A historian and entertaining storyteller, Rick and his wife lead a two-hour walking tour through the “Lower Town” area’s cobblestone streets sharing stories of hauntings, ghostly phenomena, and sordid history.
Rick, also a musicologist, performed old-time music and conducted historical tours of Gettysburg before being invited to entertain visitors of Harpers Ferry with stories based on the 1977 book, A Ghostly Tour of Harpers Ferry written by Shirley Doherty. Shirley became interested in spooky events after opening The Old Iron Horse restaurant, where she experienced ghostly phenomena. After collecting other reports of hauntings from neighbors and the National Park Service, she began hosting what is now the oldest ghost tour in America.
Rick says that although they can be spooky, his tours are dog- and kid-friendly, entertaining, and include a lot of town history. Visit their website or call for days, times, and reservations.
A DRAMATIC AFFAIR
Step inside the Historic Apollo Civic Theatre in Martinsburg, WV, where performances of long ago may still haunt the stage. Built-in 1913, the theater presented motion pictures, plays, vaudeville shows, music groups, and more. Today, it stands as an active center for live performances, filled with stories rich in history.
The annual Apolloween celebration raises funds for the theatre while awakening the “spirit” of its past. Throughout October, they host four hair-raising events—from the magical to the macabre.
Throughout the month, join Mid-Atlantic Paranormal Investigations in the theatre as they search for the ghosts of the Apollo. On October 22 and 29, “do the time warp again” with friends and a shadow cast of actors performing along with the cult-favorite Rocky Horror Picture Show. On October 30, the Sanderson sisters will cast their spell on you during a free, all-ages screening of the movie, Hocus Pocus. And if you dare, wind your way through the Haunted Theatre—where ghouls and goblins will scare the yell out of you.
Visit their website for dates, times, and tickets.
Bed and breakfast, or portal to the paranormal? The Historic 1912 Hoover House was built as a residence by Ira and Ella Hoover in downtown Waynesboro, PA. Their only child, Eleanor, inherited the home and lived there until her sudden death in what is now the “Holtzer Suite” in 1954. From 1987 until 2003, the property was repurposed as a nursing home, where its elderly residents received 24-hour care.
Lodging manager Pam Berry and her husband Steve purchased the Hoover House with friends Jim and Yvonne Wyrick after learning it was haunted. “In the basement was an old speakeasy called The Coalmine. I saw a dark shadow figure and asked about the history of the home. We conducted an EVP upstairs and heard an elderly gentleman’s voice,” Pam says, of how she became intrigued by the home’s history.
An active member of the Waynesboro Historical Society, Pam says she became interested in paranormal activity as a youngster. “We are interested in keeping the history of Waynesboro alive. These people want to be recognized and acknowledged. We don’t want their histories to be lost to time.”
Its proximity to Harpers Ferry, Antie-tam Battlefield, and Shepherdstown are appealing to travelers who book one of the five Victorian-style suites through Airbnb. Guests are welcome to conduct their own paranormal investigations or participate in one of the many unearthly events conducted monthly, like the Mystic & Mystery Weekend or Paranormal Encounters with local ghost hunting group, Paranormal Inc. The Very Victorian Christmas includes the old practice of “table tipping,” where guests can ask questions of the spirits.
An 11-time Airbnb Superhost, Pam says guests can expect clean, comfortable accommodations, comfy linens, and good food—but you never know who you might meet there. She affirms, “The Hoover House is a paranormal investigator’s dream.”
Scare up a good time at this year’s Halloween Hysteria-themed Quad State Beer Fest at the Washington County Ag Center in Boonsboro, MD. Dress your ghastliest and sample “chilling” seasonal beers from over 30 regional breweries, wineries, cideries, and distilleries. Dance, play crazy games, enter fun contests, and party with live music by Gravel, South Mountain Breed, Club Medics, and Promising Leith. Plenty of food and merch from local vendors will be available.
BEFORE YOU GO
Ghost Tours of Harpers Ferry
Apolloween at the Historic Apollo Civic Theatre
Historic 1912 Hoover House
Quad State Beer Fest: Halloween Hysteria
Ten Terrifying Signs Your House Might Be Haunted
If your house was haunted, would you stay? Realtor.com’s 2020 Haunted Real Estate Report found that more than 1 in 10 people believe the house they live in is haunted, and that the majority of them are okay with it—saying the spooky happenings they’ve experienced are not reason enough to move.
Think there may be something supernatural happening in your home? Here are 10 signs you
just might be right.
Unexplained shadows and apparitions
An abrupt change in temperature
Lights flickering on and off
Erratic pet behavior
Hearing voices or someone calling your name
Signs of Ectoplasm