Ghost Tour may take a hiatus after this year

Rick Gaylord portrays a sawmill worker who died in an accident, during a previous Ghost Tour. The tours raise funds to preserve the historic memorial stones. (File Photo)

WESTFIELD- The Westfield Historical Commission announced that the eighth annual Old Burying Ground Ghost tours on Sept. 27 and 28 may be the last time they do it for a few years.

Cindy Gaylord, Historical Commission chairperson, said that they may not bring back the Ghost Tours right away next year after a few people who work in them suggested taking a few years off. Gaylord said that tickets for this year’s tours are still on sale at the Westfield Athenaeum for $10 per tour per person.

“I’m always for taking another year off,” Gaylord joked, noting that it was not a sure thing that they would not do them next year, merely a consideration.

The eighth annual ghost tours will begin at 6 p.m. Past tours began at 5:30 p.m. Members of the Historical Commission considered it too light out for the tours at that time.

Gaylord said that tickets may also be available at the gate, but that she cannot predict which half-hour slots will be sold out, so one should wait to buy tickets at their own risk.

The tours will start every half-hour until 8:30 p.m. like last year, this year’s tours will feature historical figures from Westfield’s 350-year past in celebration of the Westfield 350. The roles of the historical figures will be played by current Westfield figures including Former Westfield News Group owner Patrick Berry, former state Sen. Michael F. Knapik, and Bob Plasse of Westfield on Weekends.

Gaylord said that her husband, Rick Gaylord, will once again be participating and he has a new special effect that will be revealed on the tours.

Art Sousa, left, portrayed the Rev. Edward Taylor during a past ghost tour. Taylor is buried in the Mechanic Street Old Burying Ground. (File Photo)

The roles being portrayed include members of the 13 founding families of Westfield talking about their lives. Some members of the Historical Commission will participate as well, including Commissioner Michael Ingraham, who said he is playing the role of his 9th-great-grandfather, Isaac Phelps. Gaylord said that this is the first time they will be using Phelps as a character. Phelp’s headstone is located in the Old Burying Ground.

“This is such a great event,” said Bob Plasse. “The best part about this for me is that it is an a-typical ghost tour in a way, as the people on the tour get to interact with the guide, going from stone to stone and meeting the ghosts along the way.”

This year, Plasse will play the role of Jeremiah Fowler as well as an “undertaker” on the tour. He noted that he will be dressing in 18th century attire.

Plasse said that he finds Westfield’s history to be exciting because it was essentially the “wild-wild west” of the time. When settlers were first arriving in what is now Westfield, it was the furthest settlement to the west in Massachusetts at the time. He noted that people who go on the tour will be able to speak to figures with familiar names like Noble, Root, Fowler, and Taylor.

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