We laugh, we giggle, we are entertained by the notion that spirits inhabit our oh-so-rational world. On the Feast of All Hallow’s Eve, a tradition with an ancient Celtic past that involved Druid rituals, we dress up the children and send them out into our neighborhoods in pursuit of their annual sugar rush. We dress up ourselves to attend parties, applying a great deal of imagination to create a unique costume.
Yet most of us cling to the idea that while amusing, ghost stories are just that—stories—and to a certain extent, this is true. What if beneath the traditions of Halloween and behind the masks we wear, there are actual ghosts out there; disembodied spirits, who, for one reason or another, continue to haunt our otherwise rational world? And what if, instead of dressing up the kids, or dressing up ourselves, we could be afforded the opportunity to encounter one of these spirits on All Hallow’s Eve, the one night a year in which traditionally, the whole gang of them are out there?
Wouldn’t that be fun?
Whether you’re in one of our five resorts in Myrtle Beach, or staying at Grande Villas at World Golf Village® in St. Augustine, or The Hammocks at Marathon™ in the Florida Keys, you’ll find an opportunity to visit a number of haunted attractions.
Haunted Myrtle Beach
Take, for example, Myrtle Beach in South Carolina, where, 365 days a year, you can attend a performance in the Ghosts and Legends Theatre™. You’ll be meeting a human representation of four specific ghosts—Alice of the Hermitage, Edward Teach (commonly known as Blackbeard), Sonny Jim (a composite creation of a slave ghost), and a spirit known as The Grey Man, who has been appearing at various locations for years to warn local residents of approaching hurricanes.
“It’s the only kind of attraction like it in the world,” says Oliver Holler, owner of the Ghosts and Legends Theatre. “The audience enters the theater through a secret panel wall into an 18th century parlor with antique furniture. They step into this room and meet these four ghosts.”
Because of its location in what is primarily a summer resort, the Ghosts and Legends Theatre is attended much more heavily in the summertime than it is on Halloween. They do, however, offer some related activities on that particular evening. Trick-or-treating children find the place decked out with eerie lighting and appropriately spooky music. Theater performances and walking tours are offered, as well.
Haunted St. Augustine
In St. Augustine, the oldest city in the country, and thus, presumably, the host city for a whole gaggle of ghosts, you can check in with the folks at Ghost Tours of St. Augustine, where on regularly scheduled ghost walks and themed activities on Halloween, you’ll be introduced (and possibly even meet) the ghost of an old Seminole chief, Osceola. During the Second Seminole War, the most expensive and longest-lasting war involving the United States between the American Revolution and Vietnam, Osceola was captured and held in the Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, an old Spanish fortification, which, under U.S. rule, became Fort Marion. Deceived into believing that he was attending a truce, Osceola was captured and imprisoned. To avoid the outrage over his capture, he was relocated to Fort Moultrie in South Carolina where he died of malaria in 1838.
Osceola’s disembodied return to the Castillo de San Marcos, where he continues to make recorded paranormal visits, may have something to do with what happened after he died. An Army doctor, Frederick Weedon, removed his head and embalmed it. It was later lost then reappeared, so to speak, and by 1885, had ended up in the anthropology collection at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, where it resides today. With so much neck-up travel, is it any wonder the old chief’s spirit is so restless and given to appearances at the site of his original incarceration?
Haunted Florida Keys
If you happen to check into The Hammocks at Marathon in the Florida Keys around the time of Halloween, you can board a shuttle bus for an hour-long trip to Key West and take part in a week-long, annual Fantasy Fest (not recommended for children) that can, if you wish, include ghost walks and tours. You can visit Old Tony’s Saloon on Greene St., which in addition to serving as a watering hole for all manner of pirates and assorted shady characters was an icehouse and morgue between 1852 and 1875.
You may also tour the reportedly haunted Fort Zachary Taylor, where hundreds of Union soldiers died, victims of a yellow fever epidemic in June 1862. Excavations of this Civil War fort in the 1960s were enhanced when the ghost of a Civil War soldier appeared before Howard England, the civil engineer tasked with the excavation. The ghost had a name—Wendell Gardner—and pointed England to a potential excavation site, where the largest cache of Civil War weapons ever found was later discovered. After telling this tale publicly, England was contacted by members of the Gardner family who identified Wendell as a Civil War soldier garrisoned at the fort, who had died in the yellow fever epidemic.
“The ghosts of Wendell and Howard haunt this fort together,” says Frank Everhart, who conducts the ghost tour known as The Haunting of Fort Zachary Taylor.
These are but a few of the potential resorts where, with a touch of persistence and an earnest desire to commune with spirits, guests can discover sites, tales, talks and tours guaranteed to make the celebration of Halloween a truly special event.
Take a chance. Get the candy, if you want. Wear a costume if you’ve got one. But avail yourself of an opportunity in these places to ‘meet’ a ghost, who just might alter your understanding of a rational world.
Check with the concierge in your resort about area ghost tours, which exist in virtually every area where you’ll find a Bluegreen resort. You might also wish to get in touch with Emilio San Martin, owner of American Ghost Tours 877.904.4678 who offers opportunities to participate in an actual paranormal investigation; into a house, historic hospital and/or graveyard. Tours are offered in cities across the country.