Features

History and haunts a scary good time.

8.31.16_Features_SheaWixsib_Ghosttour_SheaWixson (1)

Shea Wixson/ Flickr

Shea Wixson
  Staff Writer

Hidden in downtown Greensboro is a unique experience everyone should be running to experience. This gem is Carolina History and Haunts. It involves a 90 minute walking tour around the downtown Greensboro, where people are taught the general history of the city and dive into chilling stories of ghost sightings, paranormal experiences and the history behind them.

Led by the creator of the company, Dan Sayers, tour members learn the history of the haunts, rather than just the ghost stories. The use of realism and historical fact makes the experience more terrifying and compelling for the audience.

From the moment I met our tour guide, I could tell he was excited to share everything we were about to hear, and what made him so trustworthy was that he spoke about his own experience with the paranormal and his own skepticism to ghosts.

One of the great things about this tour is that he doesn’t make it his goal to scare people, he focussed on the facts of incidents at each location, and if one believes in historical facts, then there was no choice but to believe in the stories that followed.

I have been on one other ghost tour, and Carolina History and Haunts is in every way superior to my prior experience. In contrast to other ghost tours, Carolina History and Haunts doesn’t purposely try to scare people or invent intrigue; they feel that the stories speak for themselves.

For example, the Carolina Theatre downtown: years ago there was a mental patient named Melbalina who tried burning down the theatre but got locked inside, and was the only one who died in the fire she created. That sentence is factual, and the prospect of accidental and wrongful is scary enough by itself, but the tour guides don’t stop there.

We learned that people who perform and work at Carolina Theatre, have seen Melbalina in the theatre, and when I say many, I mean 50 plus years of performers and workers have continuously said they have seen or felt her presence. That was the tamest story of the night. I don’t want to give away too many stories, as people should take the tour to experience it for themselves.

Now I have always been easily scared; I never watch horror movies for fear of nightmares, but I have never been a firm believer in ghosts. Yet with all honesty, I believed everything I heard on the tour. I found myself so intrigued by the stories that I felt a mix of fear and curiosity the whole way through the experience; I wanted to know more but was also afraid to go deeper into the stories.

I know a big deciding question for many people considering the tour is whether or not participants experience anything supernatural. My answer to that is, even if I didn’t see anything supernatural, I think people should take the tour because it is not about whether you experience something, it’s about belief and learning about the city.

That’s not to say that inexplicable happenings can never occur. I did have something strange happen to me — when we were standing outside the Carolina Theatre, and Sayer finished telling us the story of Melbalina — all of the sudden my right ear got hot, so hot that it felt like a curling iron was put right next to me.

Now think about the story of Melbalina, her fiery death, and what I felt. That is what it is like to be on the tour: participants hear the history behind a building or a park, learn a story of hauntings and the strange events that follow suddenly make so much sense that participants begin to question their reality.

The real kicker of this tour, and my personal favorite part of the night, came at the end of the experience. When we arrived at our last stop of the night, The Biltmore Hotel, we were told its story. I am not going to tell that tale here, as in it was my favorite of the night, and don’t want to spoil it for those of you who may attend the tour in the future.

After telling us the rocky past of the Biltmore Hotel, Sayer spoke about how this location was proven haunted, in the two rooms where the story took place in. Guests from 60 plus years, have experienced multiple sightings and weird occurrences in those rooms and the hotel itself.

Hauntings have been so active that the hotel had to stop letting female guests stay in one of the rooms, as something always happened to them. At the beginning of the tour, participants are handed a ticket and told to hang onto it, as it will come into play later, and at the final location is where it did.

The ticket is a 10 percent coupon off of a stay at the Biltmore Hotel, to experience the haunting firsthand. Now this is why this tour is hands down amazing, because at the beginning, we were asked: “Do you want to stay in a haunted hotel?”

Without question, I would say no, but standing there in front of this hotel, hearing what took place inside and all the history within those walls, I didn’t find myself scared; I wanted to know more. I wanted to see the rooms, and see if there was more that I could find out about. The tour changes the way people think. What would you do with your ticket? There is only one way to find out!

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