Saturday, October 29, 2011
Ya, I'm bummed. Last night I was really ticked off but now that I've "slept on it", I am no longer mad, just bummed. Let me explain...
So all day Saturday I was sooo excited about the Riverside Ghost Walk and I could hardly wait for my tour time to arrive!
The FAQs said I should arrive an hour early to allow time to find parking, walk through the Downtown Promenade and find the check-in booth, so I did as instructed. I purposely purchased a ticket to the last tour of the night in the hopes that we would take our time and possibly hear some really great ghost stories. I was able to find a parking spot quickly so I took my time walking up the Promenade, taking note of all the people still enjoying a late meal in the outdoor cafes, the various Ghost Walk tour groups going in and out of buildings and the music pulsating in the distance. "This is gonna be great!" I thought to myself. I stopped to take a photo of this very cool looking building that is now a tamale restaurant I want to try some day.
I noticed the usual game and snack booths and lamented that even though I would love to pig out on a giant size bag of kettle corn, I knew I had to stay away from the unneeded calories AND sodium. I kept walking.
The music was live and loud but not intrusive. There were a few protesters in the area - the Riverside faction of OCCUPY. They were polite and didn't bother any one. I continued walking and found the check-in booth. I presented my printed ticket and was given a red wrist band to identify me as being part of the Dark Dreams Tour. I was also told to be in line 10 minutes before my tour started - promptly at 9:40 pm.
I continued walking for a bit then realized that there wasn't much else to do while I was waiting. All the area restaurants and cafes were open but it wasn't in my budget to patronize any of those establishments. That's OK - people watching is entertaining and free!
Soon I heard a gentleman make an announcement that a dance group was going to perform for us while we waited. Cool. The music started and about 40 zombies came out of a building and started dancing. Quite entertaining until....the lyrics began.
And I quote: I'ma need ta see ya pee ya pants at the concert.
Oh good lord...The performance went on for about 12 minutes and was repeated THREE more times while I was waiting for my tour to begin. Sheesh. And just so you can hear it for yourself, here is a snippet I took. Can't see much but you can definitely HEAR those stupid lyrics.
Tour groups were leaving every 20 minutes and the guides kept reminding people with red wrist bands that they were in for an extra treat after their tour. Before I had a chance to ask about that extra treat, someone else did and the tour guide explained that after our tour, we would board a trolley to hear an exceptionally creepy story. Oh boy!!
When it was finally time for my tour, my group assembled and once again, the guide reminded us that we would be getting an extra story at the end of our tour. And we were off!!
We walked about a block and a half, past century old buildings that I had driven by hundreds of times but being this close, being able to touch the buildings and take in details that are missed from your car - that was totally cool!
We entered our first building and proceeded up wooden stairs that groaned under our weight. We were crammed into a small room that had a scene set up inside of it.
A table with paints and brushes - three canvases, a fireplace and a painter. Then a young man stood in front of us and proceeded to read a story about a turn of the century painter that had been commissioned to do 50 paintings, all of them red, for a showing. Long story short, she ran out of red paint and decided to use her own blood. As she finished the last painting, she died. That's when we were told to exit the building. I knew at that point that this was not going to be about real ghost stories but rather, some kind of performance art. Oh well...
We exited the building and then followed our guide into the next place of business which was a very cool and funky coffee house/reading room with a loooong wooden bar and a trio playing jazz. We walked through and to the back end of the room and then we went down into the basement. Cool! We found a stage dripping with spider webs with one chair in the center. We were instructed to take a seat and then a young lady came out of nowhere and proceeded to tell us that she studied the paranormal and collected EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomena). During her performance, she would reach over to a boombox on a table and would play an EVP but guess what? The trio playing upstairs was drowning out the so called EVPs. I actually felt bad for the girl up by the stage! About 15 minutes later we were instructed to exit up another flight of stairs out to the street. I decided to hang back so I could take a photo and this should give you an idea of what we were looking at.
Once outside, we proceeded to walk to another building. Again, we went down to the basement. Once there, an announcement was made that "tonight's story was written by students from a local high school". That confirmed my suspicions - these were all stories made up for this ghost walk. The story began and somebody turned on a fog machine. There was SO MUCH fog, that it was difficult to see, LOL! So no pics. That story lasted a good 15 minutes and we exited and walked approximately 3 blocks to return to our starting point. It was then that our tour guide said "Good night and thank you for coming!"
I looked around and said (out loud) "Hey, where's the trolley? Aren't we supposed to get on the trolley for our last story?" Our guide, glanced back at be over her shoulder and started walking away - fast. Can you believe that? Not only was it rather lame but we got cheated out of your "special extra treat"!!
You know, I believe in supporting the arts so at least the price of my ticket went to a good cause. And, truth be told, if I had known up front that these stories weren't real but were written for the purpose of entertaining us, guess what? I still would have gone and I would have enjoyed the whole thing. BUT, it was not presented that way so yes, I was ticked off. Will I do it again? No. But I did hear about a ghost tour in Temecula so I might try that next year. Maybe with a few glasses of wine in me, I won't care what stories they tell....