Drama students set to tell history stories during Historic Ghost Walk on Saturday
Last updated 10/10/2023 at 6:51pm
In October 1886, bodies were found floating in Sabine Lake and the Sabine River. Though local volunteers recovered many of the bodies, the bones of the victims of the disaster were found in the marshes for years.
The story of the bodies, along with other local stories of murder and scandal will be part of the Seventh Annual Historic Ghost Walk through downtown on Saturday October 14.
The event is held by Heritage House Museum, which was founded in 1976 to preserve the history of Orange County. The Historic Ghost Walk was created to tell true history of local events at the places around the Sabine River and downtown area where they happened.
The historic ghost walk started in 2016 as a Halloween season event to let people know about past murders, shootings, and famous events. Heritage House board member Adam Conrad at the time was the drama teacher at Vidor High School and he had some of his students volunteer to dress up and present the histories. About 150 people came that first year.
Attendance and participation grew, even though the historic ghost walk had to be canceled during the 2020 Covid pandemic. Last year, more than 1,000 people attended and all five public high schools in Orange County had students participating.
Currently, Conrad is president of the Heritage House board and he said the board has worked to expand the hours and improve the experience for attendees. No advance tickets or online tickets will be sold. Each high school has been given tickets for parents to assure they will be able to see the performances.
Family-friendly tours will be from 3 to 6 p.m. The tour during those hours will have the same history stories, but the spooky, ghost-like drama students who walk around will not get near the spectators or try to be frightful. Ticket sales for family-friendly tours will start at 2 p.m. with tickets $5 for adults and $3 for those younger than 12.
A variety of food trucks will be set up next to the museum grounds and Free State Winery will be selling wine and sangria. Attendees may relax with food and wine on the museum lawn as they wait for their tour to begin. Free lawn games and children's crafts will be offered.
Every person buying a ticket will get an armband with a designated time. A tour group will leave every 15 minutes.
Conrad said some of the streets will be closed to traffic so each tour can accommodate 50 people. The museum is placing raised stages at each story site and the drama students will have larger megaphones to let attendees hear better.
Thrill Seeker tours will be from 7 to 10 p.m. with ticket sales for those times beginning at 6 p.m. The tours during that time will be scarier with some intentional frights.
Live music will be presented from the back Heritage House deck overlooking the lawn from 6 to 7 p.m.
This year, some streets will be closed so groups of 50 go on each of the tours. The tours begin at Heritage House Museum, 901 West Division Avenue, a block west of the Orange County Courthouse. Groups will walk about a half mile around the courthouse-riverfront area and circle back along Front Street. The walk will include the corner of Fifth and Main, where a notorious shotgun murder happened in 1935 that drew national attention to Orange.
People should wear comfortable shoes. The tour zone is not all handicap accessible, though ramps are along sidewalks. Through the years, several have pushed wheelchairs on the only grassy area of the tour at Ochitree-Inman Park. Families have also pushed strollers and wagons with children.
The Ferguson Law Firm is the main sponsor of the Historic Ghost Walk this year with numerous other businesses.