Happy Day-After-Halloween!!  Did you dress up this year?  I pulled out my standby firefly costume, which is a general crowd pleaser and super comfortable.  Win-win.  Les was creative and threw together a jellyfish costume, and Colleen was a self-explanatory nurse.  Moores was…comfy? 

virginia swimming!

Anyways, our truest-to-Halloween celebration actually came on Friday night, a freezing and rainy evening.  We all hiked down to Old Town Alexandria for a ghost tour!  Boo!!

Beales had done a ghost tour when her friend Gemma was in town, so the activity came highly recommended.  I had also heard nothing but good things about it, so I was anxious to go on one myself.  We all figured that there was no better time than Halloween to be spooked, so reservations were made. 

After dining at the always good Pizzeria Paradiso–I had a beer called “The Hopsecutioner,” muahahahaha!–we met our tour guide at the Visitor’s Center.  She turned out to be none other than Sarah Fairfax herself–of the very family that Fairax County is named after!

sarah fairfax showing us her grave

Knowing that I was going to be blogging about this event later, I wrangled all the wonderful tour guides into a picture with us.  They could not have been nicer!

I loved that they were in character.  A ghost tour is one of those activities where the more into it everyone is, the more fun you have.  There is no such thing as too nerdy when participating in a ghost tour.  (The same cannot be said of activities like, say, learning square dancing in seventh grade P.E., or the remedial drivers ed classes at the DMV.) 

Sarah Fairfax took us all over Old Town, through graveyards and into historic churches.  She would tell us creepy stories every time we stopped, usually about a haunted house or a corrupt undertaker.  She spoke in Yoda-talk: “Strange, is it not, that these flowers are blooming at the end of October?” and “See here, you shall, the grave of my husband’s second wife–speak of her you may, but I refuse.” 

in the graveyard!

My favorite story was one about an undertaker who, always interested in earning an extra buck, “invented” a new way of preserving corpses.  It was a common problem in DC summers that bodies would deteriorate quickly due to the heat and humidity, and so corpses had to be buried within a few short days of death.  At one point, a young man died, but his family was too far away to see him before he was buried.  They offered the undertaker a large amount of money if he could keep the body intact until the whole family arrived, and he unwittingly said yes.  Having no idea how he was going to fulfill his promise, but motivated by the money, he begged the butcher across the street to loan him a corner of his freezer.  And suddenly–this entrepreneurial undertaker had a new way to keep corpses looking presentable.

BUT the story is not over.  Sometimes the bodies he would lay on his blocks of ice were not in the cleanest conditions.  Soldiers were dying in the Revolutionary War, and were coming to him bloody and unkempt.  When the ice got too dirty for the butcher to allow in his freezer, the undertaker would buy it from him at a very reasonable rate.  Then, always greedy, the undertaler would resell his dirty, bloody ice to unsuspecting bartenders, usually under the cover of night to avoid unhappy buyers.  And when that dirty ice made it’s way into customers’ drinks, the bartender had to think on his feet–and so came the Bloody Mary, Strawberry Lemonade, and Cherry Coke. 

Creepy!!!  And actually pretty gross. 


We ll decided that the ghost tour was a great Halloween activity, but probably could have been a little better.  My thought was that with the increase in quantity of tours (due to Halloween), the quality might have decreased a little.  There were so many groups combing the streets of Old Town that not everybody could go to the coolest places, leaving some tour guides with less scary material.  I also wished we could have asked Sarah Fairfax questions–she was usually very far in front of the group, and didn’t seem open to pesky tourists asking her things.  But all in all, it was great, and I highly recommend ghost tours around Halloween, and also when you have visitors in town.  A great way to see the sights and get in some history! 




One Response

  1. Hi Jen! Your costume is too funny. Since Halloween is my favorite “holiday”, I’ve been happy to see more events happening each year. Aunt Kyoko told me that Halloween has become very popular in Japan (she says Japanese love holidays in general)–wouldn’t it be interesting to see how the Japanese do Halloween?
    I had 2 costumes this year: Zombie Bride and the witch/wicked stepmom from Snow White (complete with poisoned apple). The power and influence of Disney cannot be denied–many people instantly knew who I was, although no one (including me) could remember her name.

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