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Seeking out the haunted history of Georgia

Curt Yeomans

Curt Yeomans

There was a bit on the old TV show, “Designing Women,” that toyed with an old Halloween staple.

In one episode, Suzanne Sugarbaker was hosting a dinner party at her home, and the dinner was running a little late. The natives were, of course, getting a little restless as you would expect people to become when you make them endure hunger.

So Suzanne decided to check and see what the holdup was. As soon as she walked in the kitchen, that is when the Halloween reference kicks in.

“Boo,” her maid, Consuela, screamed.

“Consuela, you have to stop that,” Suzanne yelled in response.

“Hahaha, I scare you! I scare you,” Consuela said.

There are plenty of opportunities for residents to get scared in October as the most wicked of holidays approaches. A traditional October tradition are ghost tours — also known as haunted history tours — in cities across the south. There’s a big interest in them in older cities such as Savannah, Charleston and New Orleans, where many buildings have been around for 100 or more years.

I went on one during a trip to Charleston. It was OK, but nothing truly spectacular. You see, these tours sometimes have ghost types that get thrown into the show. There’s usually the ghost that still asks people for things. There’s the male ghost that supposedly always has the living women coming back for more. Then there’s a malevolent ghost.

Then a few other ghost stories are thrown in to round out the whole thing. It seems every city in the south has a story about a Civil War soldier.

Heck, even the Clayton News Daily office in Jonesboro is supposedly haunted by the ghost of a Civil War soldier named Jonathan.

But if you want a ghost tour, there are plenty of options in Georgia, according to exploregeorgia.org.

There are the popular nighttime tours of Oakland Cemetery, 248 Oakland Ave., in Atlanta, tonight and Saturday, and Oct. 24 through Oct. 27. Adult tickets are $20 and children ages 4 to 12 are admitted for $10. The tickets can only be purchased online at oaklandcemetery.com.

The 163-year old Oakland Cemetery is famous as the final resting place of famous Atlanta citizens, including “Gone With The Wind” author Margaret Mitchell, golfer Bobby Jones and former Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson.

There is also Lawrenceville Ghost Tours, which is based upon local legends and paranormal investigations. The tours started last week and take place every night until Halloween. Students can take the tours for $11.32 and adult tickets cost $14.15, and there are usually multiple tours a night. Tickets can be purchased online at scarystroll.com, and a schedule of tours can be found there as well.

If you’re looking to stay local, there are always the Haunted History Tours offered throughout the month by Dawg-Eared Books, 41 Keys Ferry St. in McDonough. This is your traditional walking ghost tour of all of the sites around downtown McDonough. Adult tickets cost $10 and children’s tickets cost $5.

Meanwhile, if ghost stories isn’t your thing, you can always head down to coastal Georgia and relive the Savannah Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1820 because nothing says Halloween quite like pestilence. The “Dreadful Pestilence: Savannah’s Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1820” living history tour is offered by the Davenport House Museum, 324 E. State St.

The tours take place Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. Tickets cost $15 for adults and $10 for children if they are purchased in advance, and $17 for adults and $15 for children if they are purchased at the time of the show.

You have to hand it to the museum because a tour about disease is certainly different from the traditional ghost tour. In a city crowded with ghost tours, you’ve gotta do something to stand out, and watching disease and death — even if it only acting — would certainly fill the bill.

“Participants in the living history performance experience the story of yellow fever’s dreadful consequences which transformed the bustling seaport of Savannah into a ghost town,” the museum’s website, davenporthousemuseum.org, states.

And that’s just a sample of the Halloween tours offered in Georgia this month. Visit exploregeorgia.org for a complete list, and don’t forget to bring a flashlight and comfortable shoes with you on these tours.