Join the Ghostwalk family, become a tour guide along the haunted trail

September 16, 2011
Santa Paula News

Ghost Walk 2011: Kirk Martin (above) and David Stewart will co-star in “A Tale of Two Heroes” about Marshal Henry Norman and Santa Paula Motor Officer James Barmore, both killed in the line of duty 40 years apart. The Santa Paula Police Officers Memorial was recently dedicated to the sacrifice made by Norman, gunned down in 1913, and Barmore, killed in a 1953 motorcycle accident. In the piece, written by retired SPPD Lt. Carlos Juarez and Barbara Kroon, Martin will play Norman; in a past GhostWalk Martin portrayed Barmore. The 17th Annual GhostWalk will be staged at “ghostoric” Santa Paula High School weekends in October starting October 14. Call 805-525-3073 for ticket information and reservations.

By Dee Anne Helsel

Special to the Santa Paula Times  

“If you’re not busy the last three weekends of October, why not come join my family? It’s a family reunion of sorts,” explains Dee Helsel, the artistic director of Santa Paula’s Ghostwalk, an annual fundraiser for the benefit of the Santa Paula Theater Center.

“This is our 17th year, and quite a few of our volunteers have been with us for more than 10 years. In fact, people like Louie Hengehold have been “ghosting” since the beginning. So if you know Louie, and most everybody in town does, ask him about how much fun he has each year. He and Kirk Martin, who drives in from Santa Barbara, get the prize for the longest Ghostwalk career.”

There are many others, mostly locals of Santa Paula, who match Louie and Kirk’s longevity record, and those people are called “Guides.” They lead groups of “walkers” from ghost site to ghost site, introducing and setting up the ghastly tales of Halloween. They return each year with fresh batteries in their flashlights and good walking shoes, raring to go yet once again. For many, like carving a pumpkin and finding a costume, Ghostwalk has become part of their fall tradition.

So how about joining the ranks? Unlike the “ghosts” (already cast, sorry), you don’t have to learn any lines. You’re given a script to read, a map and dress rehearsal to walk the route. You can also tag along with a veteran guide a couple of times before your first time out.

“You don’t have to think of yourself as a performer,” says Dee. “Maybe you’re a teacher, or lead a manager meeting for your company, or head up a Girl Scout troop. Or maybe you’ve been to a Ghostwalk or two and thought about joining us. This is the year. And we’re not talking about donating a lot of time. The tours start at 6:30, go out every 15 minutes with the last one out at 9 p.m. They last about an hour, so most guides do two tours in one night. It’s up to you whether you just want to do one weekend, or come back and do more. And you get to choose your time slot by signing up on our web site.”

Then again, maybe you’re just not the person who likes to be out in front of people. We need more “family” members for behind the scenes too. There are lots of details to attend to from working the fog machines for each ghost to parking lot duty.

Or how about this; do you have an extra five bucks you could donate to the cause? “Like any non-profit we are welcoming more sponsors, and any little bit would help,” urges Dee. “It generally costs about $7,000 to put on this event, but this year it will exceed $10,000 because of the cost of our location, Santa Paula High School. Being one of Ghostwalk’s sponsors is a great way to have your business get some exposure, or for you to be known as a gracious contributor. Your name or business name will appear in the program, and this year there will be a poster/banner at the ticket booth site.

“So come to the reunion and meet the rest of the family.” 

Contact Dee at her email address -, and she is on Facebook.

Ghostwalk 17, the annual fundraiser for the benefit of The Santa Paula Theater Center, runs Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights – October 14-16, 21-23, 29th and 30th. Please note that there is no Ghostwalk on Friday the 28th because of a SPHS homecoming football game.

Tickets: $10 discounted ticket (first weekend only); $8 children (7 and older and students with a school id); $15 adults. Tours run every 15 minutes starting at 6:30, with last one at 9 p.m. Reservations are advised (sold out most nights) – call 525-3073 starting October 1st, or visit our website:

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