MT. TABOR, NJ - Every community has a ghost story to tell. And on October 18th and 19th, supernatural enthusiasts traveled to the tight-knit community of Mount Tabor, in Parsippany, for a special event to fuel their curiosity.
This two-day event was known as the Mt. Tabor Ghost Walk, a newly established occasion only in its second year, but already an exciting get-together for those seeking a thrill for Halloween. The ghost walk gathers attendants and, guided by presenters, take a trek through the Mt. Tabor community, learning local ghost stories.
“The ghost walk was very successful last year, so they brought it back,” said Mt. Tabor resident Beth Shaw, who is a 25-year member of the local historical society. “We got a very good response this year, with new routes and new stories. People really jumped on it.”
And people literally jumped during the ghost walk. For besides learning about local history and tales of the supernatural, attendants saw actors portray ghosts throughout the streets of Mt. Tabor. About 37 actors volunteered this year to become spirits in the ghost walk. Some were professional actors, while others were young students of the Mt. Tabor ARTs Collaborative. And of course, some spirits were played by Mt. Tabor residents who love Halloween.
The ghost walk is a joint project of the Mt. Tabor ARTs Collaborative (MTAC), a non-profit organization that works to promote arts and entertainment events within the local community and the Mount Tabor Historical Society. The ghost walk was created for such a purpose, but also to benefit MTAC and the historical society, and to help fund different programs throughout the year.
“When moving to Mt. Tabor, we were told that Halloween is a very big deal here,” said Dawn Lau, Artistic Director and Vice-President of MTAC. “I like to compare it to Halloween Town. Our first year here, we threw a party and asked guests to bring bags of candy. We gave out over eight huge bags! That got me to thinking about possibly generating interest in ghost walks and how Mt. Tabor lends itself to such an event. My husband, Jim Lau, the president of MTAC, and I started discussing what that might look like and how we could create such a walk through our historical streets. I mentioned it to my talented neighbor and writer Susan Wayland, and she was on board immediately. Then at a ladies night at my home, I asked Michelle LaConto-Munn, president of the Mt. Tabor Historical Society, if they would like to be involved and the Mt. Tabor Ghost Walk was born. Susan and I got to work immediately researching leads and we gathered true stories from homeowners. The entire process took about a year.”
That long year was definitely worth it for all involved, such as for 16-year-old Mt. Tabor resident Henry Wayland, who has played a ghost during the walk.
“It was very exciting to participate and to see everything come together with the actors and everyone who contributed,” said Wayland. “I'm proud of all the effort that everyone put into this year's Ghost Walk.”
Attendants were taken on walking tours throughout the neighborhood. And though it was fascinating enough to gaze at the colorful Victorian-style houses, as it got dark, spectators focused on spooky tales from Mt. Tabor’s history.
And when there were tales being told, the event’s actors gave them a different show, scattered around the district in ghost costumes.
“I loved the ghost walk last year,” said Marian Benedicto, a Hyland Park resident who previously came to the ghost walk and this year decided to bring eight other friends with her. “I never knew what was going to happen. Mt. Tabor doesn’t just have adorable houses, it has spooky yet interesting history as well. People jumped out at you and it’s just fun this night. More people should come and share it with others.”
In total, approximately 480 patrons, adults and kids, attended this year’s ghost walk; many coming from Parsippany and beyond for the first time. Walks normally last about a half-hour each and when finished, patrons stand around at the Tabernacle building for other activities, including donuts and hot cider (donated by Whole Foods) and vendors for the historical society.
There was also a photo booth by Laura Short Photography where attendants could dress up in costumes for holiday pictures. And furthermore, at the nearby Richardson History House, there were angel card readings conducted by Mt. Tabor resident/author Mary Beth Hanlon
“This ghost walk was really great,” said West Milford resident Ashley Montano, who attended the event for the first time.
“The presenters were very knowledgeable on the district’s history and the actors being so in character is just eerie. I would come back next year.”
When the weekend was over, and the ghosts returned to their graves, approximately $4,500 were raised for both MTAC and the historical society.
The 2019 season of MTAC ends this month and will return to their activities next year in March. But until then, the Mt. Tabor Historical Society will be holding their events, including their “Tellabration,” a storytelling event on November 23rd in the Bethel Pavilion at 7:00 p.m., and a winter craft fair from December 13th to 15th.
Furthermore, the historical society shall be teaming up with the Garden Club of Mt. Tabor for a plant-themed history event, also at the Bethel Pavilion, On November 4th, at 7:00 p.m.
For more details on the events and activities of Mt Tabor ARTs Collaborative, visit their website at www.mttaborarts.org.