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.

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