The Tours Are Sold Out-but you can still enjoy the stories in the "Spirits of Athens" available later this month

Wanna hear (and see) a good ghost story?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009
By Victoria Cumbow
Times Staff Writer victoria.cumbow@htimes.com

Wanna hear (and see) a good ghost story? Take a walk in October

Many years ago, an opera singer was given red roses following a performance at McCandless Hall at Athens State University. Tragically, she was killed on her way home when the buggy she was riding in crashed.

Late at night, she can sometimes still be seen in the upstairs windows of the hall, carrying a red rose.

The McCandless ghost story is one of dozens known around Athens. During October, the annual Athens Historic Haunts Walks will feature eight stops around the Athens Historical District full of old ghost stories about the town and its buildings.

"It's about two or three blocks off the square, and it starts at Houston Memorial Library," said Jeanette Dunnavant, tourism director for the Athens Chamber of Commerce. "It takes an hour and a half to walk it with stops and stories."

Shane Black, the city attorney, is the storyteller for the Haunts Walks.

"They all have a lot of variety," he said. "You can't tell a story without telling the history of the town."

Another story, and one of Black's favorites, is set in the Houston Library. The library was once home to a former Alabama governor, and the tale says a grandfather clock can still be heard chiming upstairs. There's no clock in the building, and it's unclear why it chimes.

The walks will be Tuesday and Oct. 8, 13, 20 and 22. Each walk will start at 7 p.m. and take about an hour and a half to complete. On Oct. 8, there will be a driving tour at 5:30 p.m. for the physically impaired.

Tickets are $5 and can be purchased at the chamber office on Beaty Street. Dunnavant said the walks are limited to 25 people, and they sell out every year.

People should come about 15 minutes early to enjoy refreshments courtesy of the library.

The Haunts Walks started when Black and Dunnavant wanted to come up with a family-friendly event near Halloween. There are other things in the area, but many of them scare children, so the tour was created.

This year, Black wrote a book compiling the stories. In addition to the stories from the trail, it will include other stories from different parts of Athens. All of the proceeds of the book will go to Spirit of Athens, a downtown revitalization group.

"We do not jump out and scare people, but we tell the tales," Dunnavant said. "We don't want kids to have nightmares. We just want them to have fun."

For more info, call the chamber at 232-5411.


Life is Short and so Was this Campaign

The Southern Shorts Film Festival "Fill er Up" campaign was a success. Thanks to all that contributed!!

Bill Hunt,* Diane Lehr, Dick Chittam,* Penne Laubenthal,* Carole Foret, Shannon Bryant, Tony McCormack, Victoria Black, Shane Black, Jennifer Rosso, Why Heisler, Beverly Henley,* Samantha Banks, Naomi Dubuois, and a few anonymous

*Southern Shorts VIPs

Films are coming in and party plans are being made. Purchase premiere tickets soon as seats are limited. This is a "must see," "can't miss" event.

October 16 - 7 PM to 10:30PM
Premiere Party, the Clubhouse
Enjoy complimentary food, beverages and get a sneak peak of the winning entries
October 17 - Noon to 10 PM
Film Festival,
McCandless Hall, Athens State University


Southern Shorts VIP Announced

Penne Laubenthal was selected as the first Southern Shorts Film Festival VIP. She will receive 2 premiere party tickets and be recognized on a video during the festival. For every $250 received, a winner will be randomly selected. Only 5 days left, so donate today. You can contribute as little as $10! Every little bit helps and you just might be the next VIP. All donations are tax-deductible.


The Enabler and Her Codependents: Local Landmark Love...

Enjoy this blog entry by Amanda Romine about local landmark...Kreme Delite.

The Enabler and Her Codependents: Local Landmark Love...


What's up with Southern Shorts in October?

Next month, filmmakers, directors, writers, and talented Athenians will be walking the red carpet at the Southern Shorts Film Festival. Crazy thought? Not at all.

Earlier this year, Alabama passed film incentives that will encourage and compete for independent film production in our state. After doing a little research, it became clear that North Alabama, particularly Limestone County, was not represented on statewide film websites and marketing materials. Well, we are about to change that. Look around and picture your surroundings through a camera lens. Can't you see it now? Our historical downtown the backdrop of a major film? It could happen. In Limestone County, you also have the farmlands, the rivers and other unique southern towns. Can you imagine the economic impact to our community?

Late spring, I was encouraged to meet with Alissa Rose-Clark, a talented artist, photographer and visionary. Alissa talked about the art of film and her interest in hosting a "short film" festival in Athens. Although I saw the impact and importance of marketing our “hidden gem,” I didn’t have the technical expertise to make it happen. So what did we do? We talked, we met, and we dreamed. Now a month out, we are ready to put on our “big girl shorts” and jump in with both feet. Don’t think this is a two-woman show though...it’s far from it. The Southern Shorts Film Festival is part of Art on the Square with Spirit of Athens mainly focusing on organizing the Premiere Party to be held at the Clubhouse October 16. The festival will be at McCandless Hall at Athens State University on October 17.

Diane Lehr, media guru, AOTS Board member and SOA Organization committee member, is tracking the festival and party details. She’s a “sweet” task-master and is doing an excellent job keeping us focused and assigning duties. A Festival Planning committee comprised of interested volunteers, SOA Organization members, and AOTS board members are pounding the pavement, marketing the event, selling tickets, ordering food, etc. At the end of the day, “when the red carpet is rolled up,” proceeds will be split between the two organizations. SOA to continue their downtown revitalization efforts, and AOTS to continue offering art experiences in the community.

What’s next? After the October 1 deadline, local film experts will judge the applications. Winners will be selected from a youth and adult category. Entries can be made in the “Secret Athens” theme or open category. Entries must be under 15 minutes and the grand prize winner will receive $500, additional cash prizes will be awarded to the runners-up.

On October 16, the public is invited to attend a Premiere Party at the Clubhouse. The theme is “all things Southern.” Complimentary food-including your local favorites, and beverages will be available. Those attending will be able to watch the winning films and rub elbows with those behind the camera. Tickets purchased before October 1 will be $25. After October 1, tickets will be $35 each or $60 for guest plus one. Seats are limited.

The next day, selected film submissions will be shown in the historic McCandless Hall from Noon - 10 pm. A synopsis and film descriptions will be available prior to the event. All day tickets are $8.

Anyone can enter a film, so bust out the camcorder and start filming.

For more information, visit the Art on the Square website at www.aots-athens.com. Southern Shorts Film Festival information can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, and blog.


Almost time to select a winner...

It does not take much to make a BIG impact. These donations will go towards the best Downtown party yet - the Southern Shorts Film Festival Premiere Party. Whether it's $10 or $50, we could use it!! Once $250 is received, a winner will be randomly selected as a Southern Shorts VIP. Donate and enter today!!
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