Saturday, October 17, 2015

Ghost Walk explores Benicia's paranormal past

(Originally published in the 10/11/15 edition)

   When there’s something strange in your neighborhood, who ya gonna call?
   Well, if you happen to be on First Street this Friday, possibly you.
   Benicia Main Street will be hosting its sixth annual Ghost Walk this month, in which participants follow paranormal experts down First Street and learn about Benicia’s paranormal history.
   The event started being held in 2010, but Benicia Historical Society had been doing a Spirit Walk before then, complete with Benicia Old Town Theatre Group members dressed in costume.
   “That was more of an ‘If Jack London were on the street, this is what he would say,” Nancy Martinez, executive director of Benicia Main Street said.
   Eventually, the Benicia Historical Society wanted to take time off to regroup, Martinez said. In the meantime, Benicia Main Street staff were approached by a paranormal investigator about doing a ghost walk, and the event has been held ever since.
   The walk begins at the Railroad Depot where people will meet the paranormal investigators who walk them down First Street. Participants are given K2 meters that go off when near power sources. The tour will go down First Street, through D Street and back to the Depot
   “The investigators we have now are definitely putting you in the shoes of a ghost hunter,” Martinez said.
   The investigators this year are Deborah Hogarty and Serena Desoto, both of whom have a long history of inspecting paranormal activity.
   Hogarty investigated Wolfe Manor in Clovis, which has been a hotbed for paranormal sightings and was featured on TV shows like “Ghost Hunters” and “Ghost Adventures.” She also has been featured on CBS’ “Eye on the Bay” for her investigation of the historic Ryde Hotel in Walnut Grove.
   Desoto experienced a haunting in her home in 1999 and called Hogarty to investigate, according to a press release. Since then, she has been active in trying to uncover further information on paranormal discoveries.
   Along the way, participants will learn about Benicia’s alleged ghost sightings. 
   “There have been plenty of legends over the years,” Martinez said. “Our investigators are going off those leads.”
   Because of the high activity on First Street on Friday and Saturday nights, the walk is limited to just the street. With the exception of the Tannery, the tour does not go inside the buildings.
   The tour will also run into two characters played by actors; Ben, who lives at the Depot, and Carl, a former riverboat captain.
   “Carl likes his ladies and his whiskey, and he likes hanging out at Sailor Jack’s,” Martinez said.
   Martinez says that reception to the tour has been positive, and people don’t have to believe in ghosts to have a good time. 
   “You take away from it what you want,” she said. “We hope at the very least that you find it entertaining.”
   In addition to those fascinated by the supernatural, Martinez also says the event will be interesting for local history buffs.
   “If you’re new to Benicia or you’re an old timer, it’s a good way to refresh yourself with Benicia history,” she said. “It’s also a good way to learn about the paranormal that perhaps you didn’t know existed in Benicia.”
   The Ghost Walk will take place at 8 p.m. Fridays Oct. 16 and 30 and Saturdays Oct. 17 and 31. The tours will start at the Depot and will last between 90 minutes and an hour. Tours are $25 per person.

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