GhostWalk®: Oaks is spooky backdrop to tales of macabre and some humor
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula News
Published: October 26, 2012
“It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor. Would you be mine? Could you be mine?”
As Mr. Rogers would sing it’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, but it’s at night when GhostWalk® comes alive in an area of the city where the lack of streetlights just provides more of a reason to watch out for a phantom cast of characters. In the “ghostoric” Oaks neighborhood you won’t be borrowing a cup of sugar from the ghouls gathered to scare the living daylights out of you with tales of the macabre... and some humor.
Producer Dee Helsel is pleased that so far attendance for the 18th Annual GhostWalk® is strong. “People are loving the Oaks... without streetlights it’s very, very spooky. But many people have said they want to come back and look around, they really love the history,” snippets of which are offered during the walk.
Oaks’ historian Mitch Stone wrote the guides’ script; for years he has authored GhostWalk® stories. Helsel said Stone’s book “The Oaks of Santa Paula” is available at GhostWalk®, as is the chance to win the raffle for one of two custom designed Halloween themed hats.
Each year GhostWalk® benefits the Santa Paula Theater Center, and Helsel noted proceeds would help replace seats in the historic theater, built in 1917 as the Ebell Clubhouse.
The Oaks proved to be the perfect venue for the guides’ patter as well the six tales that mix history and real local characters with bits of architectural insight and fact with at times healthy doses of gossip or just literary license to make the ghost whoever the writer wants.
Some stories are scary while others are poignant; GhostWalk® also has stories that rely heavily on humor. What they do have in common is talented writers, actors and even guides that take GhostWalk®ers through the twists and turns of the Oaks and the characters populating the neighborhood.
“The Further Adventures of Higgins & Wooley” written by Jeff Rack stars perennial GhostWalk® star Louie Hengehold and his usually behind the scenes helper Wayne McPhail in a tale centered on real mid-19th century water hunters who wanted to cash in for the coming new city of Santa Paula, but liquid of another kind as well as a creature of the wild hampers their efforts.
“Here Kitty, Kiddy” by Carlos Juarez and Barbara Kroon stars Leticia Mattson as that unfortunate crazy cat lady that lives in every neighborhood and is targeted by childish pranks. Her own attempt to get back at the “kiddies” backfires with the help of her fiendish “kitties.”
Also based on a true character - and character in more ways than one - is “The Whistling Man” by Mitch Stone starring Kirk Martin (another standout GhostWalk® regular) as Savage Klein, builder and neighbor extraordinaire. Klein’s ghostly and dapperly dressed presence continues to roam the neighborhood where he loves to chat before whistling - but never passing - on.
The potentially terrible results of bullying are shown in “Daniel” by Jerry Cruz, a cautionary tale he produced with a revolving cast of student actors of the Santa Paula High School Drama Club. “Daniel” is particularly relevant with recent stories of how bullying affects its victims.
“The Golden Legacy” by GhostWalk® Founder and Santa Paula Historical Society President Mary Alice Orcutt Henderson mixes her love of drama with local history in a tale based on the true story of an area woman, portrayed by Andrea Robles, who carefully hid her hard-earned gold only to die at her ironing board in a horrific manner.
Elixeo Flores’ “The Out-of-Towners” are well off the beaten path with this couple’s zany quest pitting estate sales against entering the light for a final resting place. Anthony Stetson and Susan Jackson star in this lighthearted tale, where she craves collectibles and he craves only everlasting peace.
This will be the last weekend for GhostWalk®, with tours Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening departing every 15 minutes beginning at 6:30 p.m. and ending with the last tour at 9 p.m. For reservations call the HauntLine at 805-525-3073. Payment by cash, check, or credit card, is expected upon checking-in. Adults are $15, students $8.
The GhostWalk® steps out this year from 999 Cliff Drive. You must bring a flashlight for the tour, which is wheelchair accessible. Children under age 7 are resolutely discouraged from attending GhostWalk®. Groups are absolutely limited to 25 people, no exceptions, and attendees must arrive 15 minutes early for reservation check-in.
For more information visit the GhostWalk® website, http://www.GhostWalk®.com/2_0_1_2.html