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Haunted history: Town tales come to life during 13th annual Ghost Walk

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By Heather Lusk

For those who enjoy a little superstition, the 13th edition of the SullivanMunce Cultural Center’s walking tour of Zionsville has a black cat, a skit about omens and the ghost of Lincoln.

The 45-minute guided walking tour of historic homes in Zionsville’s village takes place Oct. 9 and 10 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. with tours leaving every 15 minutes. The weekend will showcase different vignettes reenacting fact-based stories, most of which are from museum or news sources. Some are about deaths that occurred in town, others are about things that were normal at the time but may seem unusual today.

Roughly 50 performers—most of whom are Zionsville residents—will participate in eight skits, one dance and random scariness that should be tame enough for most ages.

“We’re not one of those really scary [events],” said Cynthia Young, SullivanMunce Cultural Center executive director. “It’s a family friendly event, and there are early (tour) times while it’s still light outside.”

Several children are participating this year, including three of the youngest ever at five and six years old.

“They wanted to act and help their older sisters,” said Kelly Masoncup of two of the youngsters. Masoncup has chaired the Ghost Walk for four years.

“We usually have a wide range of ages,” she said. “We want the community to participate.”

Six-year-old Talia Diffendal is excited for her first performance and has been practicing her lines constantly, according to her parents.

“Last (year) someone spilled their popcorn because they were scared,” she said, hoping that will happen when she and some of the other children perform their poem at the beginning of their skit. “It’s gonna be pretty scary.”

“There’s tons of groups that are going to come, and I have to keep performing over and over again,” Talia said.

Veteran performer Jared Thies, a junior at ZCHS, is acting for his fifth year because he enjoys it so much.

”I think it’s good to do a little community activity once in a while,” he said. “When don’t you want to play a dead person?” He will be playing the role of a traveling salesman who sells a cure-all “Wizard Oil” filled with poisonous ingredients to unsuspecting townspeople.

“I’m so excited about the Wizard Oil,” said Director Vikki Soliday. “That one seemed the creepiest to me. I found that to be most intriguing because it contains a lot of factual information. It’s based on true stories in the town’s history.”

She is returning as director after joining the Ghost Walk team last year.

“Prior to last year I’d attended one Ghost Walk,” she said. “It was very creepy and inspired me to be a part.”

“It was intriguing because everyone did such an excellent job and made the history of this town very believable,” Soliday said.

A skit revolving around Lincoln has been included for several years, often tying into the history of Lincoln’s funeral train coming through Zionsville. Kirk Horn has portrayed Lincoln for three years and writes his own script that “incorporates new characters in the mix to keep it fresh” while simultaneously pulling from history.

“My Lincoln is less philosophical and more humorous and absurd,” Horn said. “I have more freedom to deviate from the Lincoln character we all learned about in school.”

While visitors wait for their tour they can enjoy popcorn and cider available for purchase or peruse the museum’s special exhibit of artifacts and items related to many of the skits.

Ghost Walk is one of the top fundraising events for SullivanMunce. Young hopes to meet or exceed last year’s 600 guests, which was the largest Ghost Walk to date.

Some tour times are already nearing capacity. Last year a handful of visitors without reservations had to be turned away because the groups were too full.

“I love Ghost Walk,” Young said. “It brings the community together.”

GHOST WALK TOURS

When: 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Oct. 9 and 10. Tours leave every 15 minutes

Where: SullivanMunce Cultural Center, 205-225 W. Hawthorne St., Zionsville.

Cost: Advance tickets for members are $10 for adults and $7 for children. For non-members, prices are $12 for adults and $9 for children. Prices the day of the event are $15 for adults and $10 for children. Children aged five and younger are free.

More info: Reservations – not required but recommended – may be made online at www.sullivanmunce.org, by calling the museum or visiting in person.


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