Last year, shortly after moving to Michigan, I went on the Ghosts of Kalamazoo Historic Tour of downtown Kalamazoo. The tour, which is run by the Kalamazoo Jaycees and raises funds for Warm Kids, turned out to be a great way to get to know lots of fun historic tidbits about my new hometown. And, you know, find out which places were haunted because that’s always helpful. (Hint: Half of all the theaters in downtown Kalamazoo are lousy with ghosts. Just so you know.)
So when I found out that the tours were being offered again this year, I signed up for their first tour at Riverside Cemetery, one of Kalamazoo’s historic cemeteries. Because if there’s one thing I love as much as a good ghost tour, it’s a cool old cemetery. (Yes, I know. I’m weird.)
I should probably mention here that even though I love ghost tours and cool old cemeteries, I’m a big, huge scaredy cat. I never watch scary movies. The last time I went in a haunted house, I thought I was going to have a heart attack. And I can’t even watch Long Island Medium without completely freaking out and sleeping with the lights on.
At the start of the tour, when the sun was just setting and it was still light out, it didn’t seem like an entirely bad idea to take a ghost tour in the middle of a cemetery in the evening. Plus, the tour started off with lots of interesting and completely unspooky facts about the cemetery, like the fact that it had been built on the convergence of some Indian trails and that original plots in the cemetery used to sell for as little as three dollars. As the tour continued, and we wound our way around the cemetery, the guides pointed out various crumbly, old headstones and memorials, noting the historical significance of different features. It all seemed very civilized and educational and totally not-scare-your-pants-off.
Then, the sun went down and the tour turned from talk of history to hauntings. And that’s when I started to really question my judgment. It didn’t help that I hadn’t followed the advice on the tour’s website to bring a flashlight and I couldn’t see where I was going. So basically every time I stepped on a twig or crunchy leaf, I became convinced that I was stepping on a skeleton hand and I’d be pulled into a dark underworld never to be seen from again.
Luckily, we didn’t encounter any spirits or specters, but that didn’t stop me from running directly to my car after the tour was over and locking all my doors. Which, I know wouldn’t really protect me from ghosts, but it somehow made me feel better.
And then I went home and signed up for the next weekend’s tour, which is being offered at Mountain Home, another historic cemetery in town. Because, apparently, I like spending my weekend evenings walking around in old, dark cemeteries, stepping on skeleton hands. (Yes, I know. I’m weird.)
Tours are $8 per person/tour. Visit the tour website for tour locations, dates and times, and to reserve tickets online.