Charles Spence

From a young age, I’ve been fascinated by the folk tales, ghost stories and myths of countries I grew up in or traveled to.

Growing up in a military family, and having served myself, I was fortunate to have lived overseas, getting a firsthand opportunity to experience those cultures and their stories, which was much more engaging than the accounts in a local history book. It was during these travels that I learned to appreciate the unique perspectives and insights that could come only from ghost tour guides.

At first thought, a ghost tour seems silly, an activity that should be done only around Halloween. But tours can offer more than people realize. In fact, my wife Carmen and I actively participate in ghost tours in every new city we travel to, as they give us new perspective and offer a little fun, if not a few scares.

Because most ghost tours require a good bit of walking over the course of one to two hours, they provide an opportunity to explore cities after dark in an unconventional way. You move from one distinctive location to another, as the stories of the surroundings come to life from — you hope — a dynamic and engaging tour guide who provides historical context related to what is considered “haunted.” These folklore and urban legends can give you a better understanding of a city and its history. And if nothing else, they offer an inventory of scary stories to share with your kids — should they need to be kept in check — at your next campfire.

On a recent trip to Washington, D.C., Carmen and I signed up for a ghost tour in Georgetown. And it ended up being one of my favorite tours. In particular, we visited the eerie and iconic 75 stairs made famous in the 1973 horror film classic “The Exorcist.” That evening, I left the bathroom lights on in the hotel — for my wife’s comfort and not mine, of course!

Charles Spence is a co-owner of the downtown Copper Branch franchise.

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