Front Porch Storytellers to kick off 7th season of Historic Ghost Walks of Elizabethton

Published 8:26 am Monday, September 21, 2015

Have you ever walked past an old building and wondered what history it has to tell? Or passed by a house and just felt that something mysterious must have happened there?
This fall, you will have the chance to find out if your instincts were right as The Front Porch Storytellers kick off their seventh season of Historic Ghost Walks of Elizabethton.
Elizabethton’s original haunted history tour was created by The Front Porch Storytellers — Mary Jane Kennedy and Chad Bogart — and is steeped in local history as well as local lore and legends.
“We researched this walk for about six months before we did it, Chad and I,” Kennedy said.
And, when it comes to local history, both Kennedy and Bogart are well versed in the subject. Both members of this storytelling duo work with Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area where Bogart is an historic interpretive ranger and Kennedy volunteers as an archivist.
To add to the atmosphere of the tours, the pair dress in period costumes with Kennedy donning clothes from the 1700s and Bogart appearing in Victorian era garb.
To come up with the tour, Kennedy and Bogart researched the history of downtown Elizabethton, its people and its businesses. They also researched strange things experienced by people.
“The stories are full of history and mystery, which there is a lot of in this little town,” Kennedy said. “We tell stories from the 1700s all the way up through present times.”
The tour what Kennedy called “a leisurely walk” with several stopping points along the way.
“Every stop we make has historical value,” she said.
At each stop, participants will hear some of the history of the location, including stories about who lived there or what business used to be there. Then, they will hear a little of the mystery to go with the facts.
“Our stories are about the local people and local experiences,” Kennedy said. “Some of our stories are from personal experiences, including some from Chad and I, things that we have experienced.”
Researching the stories for the tour was exciting, Kennedy said, adding she enjoyed uncovering the hidden gems among the historical accounts and local legends.
“We’ve been able to find several legends, several personal experiences and several stories that tie in,” she said.
Over the years, the stories on the tour have changed some as Kennedy and Bogart learn of new tales or hear of new personal experiences.
“The stories are really intriguing but we don’t scare anybody to death,” Kennedy said. “Our stories are always family friendly, people will laugh a lot on the tour.”
“People are always amazed at the number of famous people that have passed through here and a lot of that comes out in our stories,” she added. “It’s a lot of fun. Chad and I probably have too much fun doing it.”
This year, the tour route will be changing slightly from years past.
“We used to start out and end at the Bonnie Kate, but the Bonnie Kate is not there any more,” Kennedy said.
This year, Kennedy said she and Bogart spoke with the owners of Jiggy Ray’s Downtown Pizzeria about using the restaurant as the beginning and ending point for the tour and they agreed. Using the restaurant is perfect, Kennedy said, because it occupies one of the buildings talked about on the tour.
The walk will begin in front of Jiggy Ray’s at 7 p.m. and go up through downtown, pass by the old Bonnie Kate Theater and then turn down Hattie Avenue. From there, the tour will cross the Covered Bridge and go through the park and on to the Veteran’s Monument and Carter County Courthouse. Then the walk head up Elk Avenue and back to Jiggy Ray’s. The tour will conclude inside the restaurant with a few more stories and the chance for participants to order a bite to eat.
While the stories and the route may be different, one thing that hasn’t changed since the beginning is the price for the tour. “We’ve not raised our prices in seven years,” Kennedy said.
Dates for the Historic Ghost Walks of Elizabethton will be Oct. 1, Oct. 15, Oct. 16, Oct. 22, Oct. 30 and Nov. 5. Walks begin at 7 p.m. in front of Jiggy Ray’s Downtown Pizzeria at 610 E. Elk Avenue. The cost is $12 for adults, $10 for veterans and $11 for seniors and children up to age 16. Group rates are available for groups of 10 and up.Each walk is limited to 20 spots and reservations are required. To reserve your spot, call 423-542-9360.
Large groups – such as school groups, reunions or church groups – can call and reserve their own date for a private ghost walk, Kennedy said. Reservations for private walks can be made by calling the same telephone number, she added.

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