WESTFIELD — Guests for the annual Ghost Tours on Oct. 1 and 2 will be strongly encouraged to wear masks, even though it takes place outdoors.
Historical Commission Chair Cindy Gaylord said that masks, hand sanitizer, and gloves will be available for guests of the Ghost Tours at the front gate of the Old Burying Ground. Though face masks will not be required, they will be strongly encouraged for all guests, especially as the actors playing the “ghosts” will not be wearing face coverings themselves, so they can be heard clearly.
“We are just trying to cover all of our bases to protect the guests and ghosts,” said Gaylord.
The Ghost Tours take place in the Old Burying Ground on Mechanic Street, an entirely outdoor setting. COVID-19 is not believed to spread nearly as easily outdoors as it can indoors, but outdoor transmission is possible, especially in situations like the Ghost Tours where guests may be huddled close together listening to the ghosts give their talk.
Tickets for some of the ghost tours are still available, but Gaylord said that four of the tours are already sold out. The tours did not take place in 2020 due to the pandemic. They will feature local officials and Westfield residents playing the roles of significant figures of Westfield’s history. Ghosts will stand near their respective grave markers, where they will talk about the lives of the historical figure they are portraying.
Old grave markers
A week later on Oct. 9, some of those grave markers in the Old Burying Ground will be given a cleaning as part of a limited stone cleaning workshop organized by Graves Officer Gene Theroux. Due to the age of the cemetery, many stones and markers have become eroded or overgrown with moss. Theroux will host a workshop for Historical Commission members to properly clean the stones and mitigate their long-term damage. The workshop will not be open to the public, due to the pandemic.
One such stone that did not stand the test of time was that of John Ingersoll, an early Westfield resident, and one of the founders of one of Westfield’s first churches. Ingersoll died in 1684, and Gaylord said his stone has been lost for some time. However, a woman from New York who claims to be related to him has commissioned a new monument to be built to replace the one that was lost. Gaylord said that they plan to install the new stone next to John Ingersoll’s son, Thomas Ingersoll, in the Old Burying Ground on Oct. 29.