Ghosts, though creepy and mysterious, have always sparked people’s interest in the paranormal. This fascination of the dead is most predominate in October when people dress in creative costumes and visit haunted houses to get into the Halloween spirit.
Instead of hosting a haunted house, where torture sounds play in dimly lit spaces as people dressed in costumes jump out to scare you, the Phoenix Ghost Tours gives people the opportunity to experience real paranormal activity.
Experienced tour guide Joe Atredies said it is “just as good as the Grand Canyon.”
This walking tour, which is just short of a mile, is a year-round event that takes participants inside some of the most haunted buildings located in downtown Phoenix.
Tour guides like Atredies search through state archives and library systems to compile the information given on the tour.
“Everyone likes ghost stories,” Atredies said. “The ghost stories I like are real. Each ghost mentioned on the tour has been seen and documented at least twice by different parties.”
As it turns out, death and mayhem have existed in Phoenix since its humble beginnings as farm land. The first documented ghost sighting goes as far back as 1910.
One of the most well-known haunted landmarks in Phoenix is the Orpheum Theatre. These ghosts are known to bother performers while they are on stage.
Apparently, the ghosts who reside in the theater are not fans of the British band, Whitesnake. It was reported that phantoms put such a spook on the band that members left the theater after 10 minutes, walking away from a $50,000 contract.
It seems as if Phoenix ghosts are not very big fans of tourists either. Guests at the Renaissance Hotel (formally known as the Adams Hotel), the Hotel San Carlos and the Westward Ho have all reported ghost sightings while residing in hotel rooms.
In the Renaissance Hotel, the smell of smoke sometimes drifts through the halls and triggers the fire alarm. Guests have also reported drops in temperature after catching a glimpse of a phantom residing in guest rooms.
Guests and staff at the Hotel San Carlos have had numerous encounters with apparitions not only in hotel rooms, but also in the hallways of various floors and even the basement. It has also been reported that sounds of small children playing can be heard throughout the hotel.
Lisa Piergallini, an accountant from Phoenix, claimed she sometimes does believe in ghosts, and liked the way the tour was conducted.
“The tour guide told the stories in an interesting way,” Piergallini said. “My favorite part was hearing about the ghost in the Hotel San Carlos. You can tell he did his research.”
The Westward Ho was once one of the most elegant hotels in the West. It now serves mainly as retirement housing for senior citizens. Residents of the landmark have reported the sound of a woman crying, and there have also been reports of a dancing phantom moving through the walls.
“People die in here all the time,” Westward Ho resident and retired railroad chief, Dennis McGary said. “When they first made this place, gargoyles were carved on the outside of the walls to ward off bad spirits. Whether it works or not is up for debate.”
Even the Lincoln Family Downtown YMCA, a facility used by many Downtown campus students, faculty and staff, has documented ghost sightings, reportedly scaring residents living on the upper level floors. Reports of a wide shadowy figure in the shape of a headless torso have been spotted inside residents’ rooms and is said to sometimes drop items on residents while they sleep.
The tour proved to be very informative of Phoenix history and the ghosts that haunt many historical landmarks.
“I lived in Phoenix all my life and didn’t know the history,” Brandon Mendoza, a 31-year-old government employee, said. “I would recommend it to any Phoenix native to know about the historical side of history.”
William Devoe, a Phoenix native and a mechanical school student who served in the U.S. Army for eight years, claimed he learned more than he thought he would from the tour.
“I liked that it showed the history of real people,” Devoe said. “It shows a colorful history. It shows people Phoenix didn’t pop up out of nowhere.”
The Phoenix Ghost Tour is entertaining, informative and, at times, a bit creepy. It is a fun tour to go on at any time during the year, not just during the Halloween season.
Unlike the ghosts regularly featured in haunted houses throughout the month of October, these ghost are around permanently.
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