If you love a ghost story, especially when it is being told around Halloween, or might relish the possibility of finding some spectral visitors yourself, a ghost tour might be the perfect October activity for you.
Cathy Ramirez, owner of Ghost Tours of Kansas, answered questions about her business.
Could you give us a little of the history of your business and how you got into this line of work?
I grew up a native North Topekan and attended Rochester Grade School, stomping ground of the infamous albino lady ghost so I always had a fascination with her and spooky things in general. As an adult, someone approached me with the idea of putting together a ghost tour, which I thought was a great idea. So, 16 years later, I am still hosting many paranormal tours and events in a number of cities.
How long do tours last?
I usually start tours and events in late spring until the end of October, which is usually the busiest month, although I sell out during Friday the 13th no matter what month it is.
Tell me about the typical ghost tourist. What is his/her age, background and reason for touring?
I get all age groups on my tours and limit the minimum age to about 12 unless a parent calls and asks if it is OK for their 10-year-old to attend. Sometimes I get the women dragging their husbands on the tours who really didn’t want to go and don’t believe in ghosts but by the time the tour is over, the men really enjoy the history aspect of the tour. I receive many compliments regarding historical facts people would not have known otherwise. I have provided private tours for all kinds of groups, including church groups, Red Hat (Society) ladies, morticians group and many school and youth groups.
What is the cost of a tour and what does it include?
Walking tours are $10 per person for a 1 hour and 15 minute tour. During the month of October, the price is $12 per person. Bus tours are $15 per person and in October they are $17.50 for a two-hour tour. Special events such as psychic fun and feasts range from $50 to $65, which includes a meal, history, ghost stories and a personalized psychic reading. Ghost hunts range in price from $25 to $30 and includes a presentation from the host team and then the ghost hunt, which usually is three hours.
What are the spookiest places you have visited?
My spookiest or favorite locations to ghost hunt are Serendipity in North Topeka along with several other buildings next to it because of the amount of activity captured in pictures, K2 (electromagnetic field) meters and dowsing rods. The alley of Jayhawk Tower is super cool since it is a stop on my downtown Topeka tour and a full apparition of a wino has been captured several times and lots of experiences have been had by many. Sigma Nu Fraternity is another awesome location, along with Pioneer Cemetery in Lawrence, which is a get-out stop on my Lawrence Tour.
How do you find haunted places?
When I first put a tour together, I approach a business and just ask if they have ghosts. I receive answers such as “yes,” “no,” “maybe,” “I wish I did” or “No, you need to leave before I call the police.” I collect stories, do an in-depth historical research on the location and then ghost hunt to try to retrieve evidence to help confirm the hauntings and history. When you put all three elements together it makes for a great tour. I have had locations that when I first approach they will state that they are haunted and do not want to be on the tour and then later they will change their mind because they realize haunted locations are a big draw for customers. The majority of locations are open to letting us ghost hunt, and a few do not want to stir up the ghosts so they would prefer the location not be investigated but they are OK with being on the tour.
Any unnatural happenings ever occur on any of your tours?
During tours I have had customers feel like they can’t breathe. I have had customers who had a spirit blocking them so no one can take a picture of the person and it is a black screen. I have had people who are empathic and start to get emotional in certain locations, I have had people be touched, hear growling sounds and pretty much any weird thing that could happen has happened, including disembodied sounds. I do stress on my website I do not guarantee paranormal experiences.
Where can one find more information about your business and the tours themselves?
Ghosttoursofkansas.org. I can be reached at 785-851-0856 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find us on Facebook at Ghost Tours of Kansas.
Anything else you would like to add?
Due to COVID-19, this year my tours are limited to a few walking tours, which are nearly or completely sold out. However, if someone wants to book a private walking tour, a minimum of 15 people are required at $12 per person. Walking tours include Shawnee, Wichita, downtown Topeka, North Topeka, Holton and Leavenworth. I am hoping to start up other events next spring after COVID-19 is over.