Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fall Fun

Fall Fun
To say Salem, MA takes Halloween season seriously is an understatement. While waiting for my Haunted Footsteps Ghost Tour, I walked around the Salem Market, to my surprise it was like a Halloween wonderland. There were vendors selling t-shirts, tour guides trying to persuade eager tourists to take their haunted tours, locals parked on the side of the road with their PT Cruisers with Halloween paraphernalia participating in the Salem Witch Rally Car Cruise. All the while Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” was playing through the square.
After waiting approximately 30 minutes my tour was about to start. We all met outside the office for the tour guide to take us around. The guide emerged from the office dressed in 1600’s Salem attire a black suit, long over coat, top hat, and in his hand he carried a lantern. The guides name was Adam; he has lived in Salem his whole life and has been a tour guide for 6 years. After introducing himself he started the tour, we walked the dark streets and graveyards with nothing but candlelight from the lantern. The first stop on the tour was the Lyceum Restaurant. It was said that the restaurant was haunted by the ghost of Bridgette Bishop. Bishop was the first person executed by the Witch Trials on June 10, 1692. The Lyceum was built directly over where Bishop’s house used to stand. Another fact about the restaurant is the first long-distance phone call was made by Alexander Graham Bell in the restaurant.
The next stop on the tour was the Howard St. Cemetery. This is where Giles Corry was executed by the Sheriff George Corwin. Corry’s wife was arrested for witchcraft, trying to get his wife freed was also sentenced as a conspirator. Corry wouldn’t plead guilty or not guilty at the trial. This stalled his sentencing, so Corwin took Corry to the Howard Street Cemetery and threw him in the ditch placed a board over him and began to place heavy rocks on him, until it crushed his ribs. He wouldn’t give Corwin his plea and he died in that cemetery and haunts it to this day.
We then walked a few blocks to the John Ward House. It is the oldest standing house from the Witch Trials period. Ward was a strong believer in the witch trials and frequently lent his house to the town to examine women to see if they are witches. There are stories that Ward haunts the house, people will hear footsteps walking around and nobody will be there.
Adam then led us to the Gardener-Pingree house. It’s supposedly haunted by the spirit of Captain White, who bought the house after retiring from the high seas. He would tell tall tales at the local pubs in Salem. One tale he said there was a treasure in his house hidden. One day three men broke into the house to look for the treasure; they ransacked the house and couldn’t find the treasure and slit Captain White’s neck.
The last stop of the tour was the Witch Trail Memorial. It was right next to the 1630 burial ground in Salem. The stones used to build the walls were stacked onto each other; no mortar was used to keep the stones together. This is supposed to represent the stones stack on Giles Corry. There were also stone benches one for each person that was killed in the Witch Trials. They have the name and the date of death on each of the benches.
If you live in Boston, it’s well worth the trip. Salem is approximately a 25 minute car ride from UMass Boston. There is also a train you can take there from North Station using the Newbury/Rockport line. The tour is a great way to see Salem and have a night out. For people 21 and over they have pub crawl tours also.
Tour Information
Haunted Footsteps Ghost Tour
Salem Historical Tours
8 Central Street
Salem, MA 01970
Ph: 978-745-0666
Nightly 8 PM
April 1 - October 5
Nightly 7 PM and 8 PM
October 6 - 31
Adults $14
Seniors/Students/Military $10
Children (6 - 14) $8

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