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Monday, October 28, 2013

HOWLphartta Ghost Tour

[Image Source:]
What: HOWLpharetta Ghost Tour
Where: Historic Downtown Alpharetta, Ga.
When: Fridays and Saturdays, 8:00 p.m. March - November
Cost: $15 Admission, Free Parking

As you all may—or may not know if you've only recently started following me—one of my favorite traditions is going on ghost tours with the wife. Each Halloween season, we try to check out at least one new tour. It's a fun little obsession we have that allows us to learn about Georgia's quirky local history while sightseeing the state's many historic down-towns.  This year, one of those tours was the HOWLpharetta Ghost Tour.

Located in Historic Downtown Alpharetta in northern Fulton County about half an hour north of Atlanta, HOWLpharetta is a guided ghost story tour presented by the nice folks at Alpharetta Tours. Tours meet at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays in front of the historic Dodd Hotel at the corner of Milton Avenue and Roswell Street and follows a two mile stroll around town, making frequent stops to weave history with local legends and tales of ghost sightings. "I have permission from the owners to tell you of their ghostly encounters," Jen Hunt, our guide tells our tour group. She goes on to say that many of the store owners and residences enthusiastically volunteered their stories when she initially approached them about doing a history tour. "I don't even mention ghosts," she says. "'Did you know, this building is haunted?' Would be the first thing they say to me."

Jen Hunt of [Image Source:]
Bring a flashlight as this tour not only only takes you in front of several shops in the well-lit Business District, but also down a couple dark alleyways and side streets as well as Resthaven Cemetery where many of Alpharetta's founding families are buried and to which Alpharetta Tours claims an exclusive night-time access. Add the fact that all the rain this year has caused many of the graves to shift, rise, and/or sink, and you have the making for an eerie and enjoyable night out.

Most of those stories are of mischievous specters or idiosyncratic ghosts who, despite the violent ends many of them meet in life, are out to play tricks on the unsuspecting store employee rather than induce scares. Others tales can be spine-tingling for the faint of heart, however.  At one point we ended up in front of  "one of the most active addresses" where the scent of pipe tobacco near the front porch is a documented sign of one of the hauntings. I stood at the spot for a while as I waited my turn to approach the front door but didn't smell a thing. Then, I walked away up the steps to take a look through the windows and as I walked past the same spot away from the house, it hit me! It was faint at first but grew stronger. The distinct aroma of pipe smoke. I'll let you decide if it really was an encounter or just my mind opened to suggestions. But I think you should go there yourself before you make any conclusions.

Tickets are $15 and can be purchased though the tour website which links to their Zerve listing. Although the website says the tours are from March through November, there are tickets available for December. But get them fast as tickets do go quickly. I'm a little late with my review, we went on two weeks ago. The tickets for the rest of October (including special engagement times for Halloween week) and November didn't stay up that long.HOWLpharetta also does special nights once a month when guest can bring their best-behaved furry friends on the tour with them. These dog-friendly outing require that owners keep their pets on a leash, that owners pick up after their dogs, and that dogs not be easily startled by noise.

Be aware there is a waiver you will need to sign to participate. It seems to be (I'm not a lawyer here folks!) a general waiver basically stating that—hey!—you 're knowingly and willingly going on a two mile walk in the dark while being told scary stories and that you're assuming all risk of said activity. There is one part of the waiver I did not like, however. There is a small media release section at the end of the one page waiver that requires a separate signature. It states:
I agree to grant Alpharetta Tours to a worldwide, royalty-free license to use my name, statements, photographic, video, or digital likeness solely for promotional, educational, and/or commercial purposes.
I think it glows in the dark.
Otherwise, it was a fun night of ghostly adventure that would make any history buff or ghost-story aficionado proud. They definitely fulfill their promise of a night of "exquisite storytelling and Southern charm." I was not disappointed.

If you do decide to take one of their tours, make sure to like their Facebook Page or follow them on Twitter and to leave a TripAdvisor review, as doing so qualifies you for their drawings to win a goody-bag and t-shirt. Brooke, who always seems to win thinks she enters, received this nifty shirt.

Here are just some of the photos we took during the tour. You can see more of the photos on my Facebook page.

What ghost lurks here?
 I won't spoil it for you. 
The tour begins.

Resthaven as seen from the Gates

Not high-def enough for you? Check out photographer Jonathan Phillips blog where he reviewed the tour and posted some really crisp, professional photos. Alpharetta Tours also has some great images on their website and on their Facebook page.