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Ghost tours and magical shows are returning to Monticello and Roseland Cemetery, courtesy of the Monticello-Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce.
Chamber Executive Director Katrina Richardson confirmed last week that ghostly storytelling and walking tours of the town and cemetery will be held every Friday and Saturday evening during this month, beginning Friday, Oct. 11.
Richardson said the storytelling, titled Ghostly Tales, will take place at the chamber building at 7 p.m. on Fridays, and the walking tours of the town will be conducted on Saturdays along the town's Ghostly Trail.
The 90-minute walking tours, Richardson said, will be staggered, with the first beginning at 7 p.m., the second at 7:30, and the third at 8 p.m.
On Saturday, Oct. 19, a night tour of the Roseland Cemetery is planned, with the time yet to be determined. Walking tours of the town will also be conducted on Halloween Night, Thursday, Oct. 31.
Resumption of the tours resulted from tour guide Linda Ford's recent appeal to the Monticello City Council, of which she asked permission to conduct tours of the historic Roseland Cemetery on Madison Street.
Not only were the tours a moneymaker, Ford told the council, but members of the public were clamoring for their return.
“Last year, we brought in $2,000,” Ford said. “The haunted history is not going to go away. It's part of this city's cachet.”
A specialist in Victorian arts, Ford identified herself as a former coordinator of the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in New York State. Among the famous people buried at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is 19th century American writer Washington Irving, best known for his short stories “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”
Other famous people buried at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery include Andrew Carnegie, William Rockefeller and Elizabeth Arden.
Ford told the council that her idea for the local cemetery was to have magical shows along with the ghost tours. People, she said, wanted spookiness to be part of their tour experience.
“I partner occasionally with a magician who performs special effects that are eerie and maybe will satisfy the spookiness that people want, but it won't disparage the people who rest there,” Ford said.
She vowed that she would be ever mindful of the sanctity of the cemetery and conduct the tours tastefully and with due respect to the memory of the buried, as well as to their living relatives.
Ford acknowledged that shenanigans had been associated with the cemetery tours in the past, including fabrications and outright lies for the sake of entertaining the tour participants.
“I will not disparage anyone or make up stories about anyone,” she said.
Rather, Ford said, she wanted to use the magic show to create interest and the appropriate creepy atmosphere, which she would use to inject the history and art of the place into her talks, as education was primarily her goal.
The tours, Ford said, would be conducted early evenings, after it got dark.
The council was amenable to the request, so long as the chamber provided the appropriate liability insurance coverage, held the city harmless, and ensured that the tours would be restricted to the public areas of the cemetery.