Walking with Ghosts

The season of Halloween is upon us, and the TV is full of paranormal specials, giving peeks at the most haunted places this world has to offer. Instead of sitting on the couch flicking mindlessly from channel to channel, go out and experience the local version with Thea Lewis. After taking a ghost tour with a less-than-enthusiastic host, Lewis decided to form her own company. “I knew I was interested in starting a company in Burlington that offered a fun, historical look at Burlington and its haunts,” Lewis said. Her disappointment led her to create Queen City Ghostwalk, she said. Lewis began to acquire stories of paranormal activity through her friends. Using their accounts as a foundation, she further researched the history of these claims, amassing a collection of chillingly detailed tales for her tour, she said. Intrigued individuals wait on the steps at the back of City Hall for their guide and for the tour to begin. Emerging from the park carrying a lantern and fully draped in a black cloak, Lewis appears to impart tales of the paranormal beings of Burlington’s downtown area. Lewis first brings the tour to the firehouse Gallery right on Church Street, where a deceased firefighter believes he is still on the job. The man, who died tragically battling a fire in 1987, is claimed to still inhabit the Firehouse, much to the fear of one woman who made the mistake of staying alone after hours one night. Tour-goers find themselves guided past Macy’s, where a gentleman dressed in attire from years past finds himself very out of place in the storerooms, and on to The Moffett House near the waterfront. The prominent house marks a place where one over-achieving businessman lost everything he had including his sanity. While the building has changed hands numerous times, one constant remains: the mysterious after-hours activity. Lights turn on by themselves and portraits migrate off the walls. After a series of back alley shortcuts, the tour stands at the back of the Flynn Theater, looking up to the building’s tallest point. According to Lewis, a stage assistant died years ago while assembling a show’s set. He is said to now watch over others to as?sure they do not meet the same fate.The last stop on the tour is an alley behind Pacific Rim and American Flatbread, where Lewis tells a tale that might just make one reconsider a wait-staff job at Flatbread. Long ago, the tour guide said, a chef took his life violently in the basement of the restaurant, but he couldn’t seem to leave his work behind. Employees find an unnerving experience waiting for them once they’ve entered the room. Lewis tells of hair-raising encounters behind the doors, which lock themselves preventing one’s escape. Lewis then returns to Church Street, leaving tourists peering at the buildings looming in the darkness with a mix of fear and curiosity. “The stories were great, but when she left you in silence looking around it really gave you chills,” UVM senior Kedi Kinner said. “She lets your imagination take over.”