A Night of Fright

Janelle Authur

With traditional Halloween parties on hold this year, thirty-two Unit 8A residents took a Walking Ghost Tour around the Ranch on Oct. 31 as part of the Unit’s “Night of Fright.” The weather was crisp, the stars were out, and the moon was blue—a perfect evening for spine-tingling stories about the Ranch’s resident ghosts, a séance after, and a Tarot card reading.

Four tour groups of eight guests each met their Ghost Host along Amenity Drive as night fell and darkness settled over the Ranch. Ghost Hosts Francis Fraidy Cat (Janelle Authur), Bertha the Butcher (Judie Townsend), Scary Mary (Kate Thomsen), and Morbid Mona (Marci Whitehead) shared their personal haunted stories, outlined the tour rules, and provided each guest with a sticker of glow-in-the-dark ectoplasm to ward off ghosts and goblins.

Each tour group walked to four different Fright Stations along Amenity Drive, from Ed’s Dogs to the Arts & Technology Center. At each station, the Unit 8A Ghostbusters shared frightening stories about the Ranch’s Resident Ghosts. Ghostbusters Paul Thomsen, Dennis Eckmeyer, Debbie Chapman, and Dick Ryan spun ghoulish tales based on Oracle history and Ranch life, all embellished with costumes, skeletons, dismembered body parts, candles, and candelabras.

Guests were encouraged to wear costumes and turned out in creative style as a horse, Judge Judy, the Screamer, a sheriff, a hippie, a skeleton, a baseball umpire, and a park ranger, to name a few. After the Ghost Walk, tour guests, still wearing their ectoplasm, gathered at the Unit 8A Haunted Vacant Ground on the corner of Terrifying Tamarisk and Ghoul’s Way for a séance conducted by The Great Madame, Barbara Whitehead. Madame and séance participants summoned the spirit of one of the Ranch’s ghosts, the bride Celeste, and discovered the true and sad story of her death. Madame also did a tarot card reading for Kurt Kamala, a.k.a. Dr. Who, foretelling the future of a faraway galaxy devoured by a black hole.

Guests paid their respects to the dearly departed in the Haunted Vacant Ground, swapped ghost stories with neighbors, and the ladies kicked up their heels with a line dance to the “Monster Mash”. Of course, no Halloween would be complete without a treat bag of candy to take home.

What was the takeaway from the evening? Watch for a tingly touch, a slight blowing wind, agonizing moans, strange coyote howls, perfectly hit golf balls going askew, the thump of a wooden leg, and sunken spots on the tennis courts—a Ranch ghost may be lurking close-by. And, always, always wear your ectoplasm on dark, full-moon nights.