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October 21, 2013

Mansion Ghost Walk brings the dead back to life

By Sherri Kolade
C & G Staff Writer

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Mansion volunteers portray Victorian mourners during an annual Victorian Ghost Walk event Oct. 19.

FARMINGTON — The full moon looked like it was just there for show.

It provided the perfect backdrop for the throngs of people who stood in line in mid-40 degree temperatures as a hearse flashed purple lights into the dark sky, a harbinger of unearthly things yet unseen.

The annual Ghost Walk 
Oct. 19 at the Governor Warner Mansion, 33805 Grand River Ave., drew attendees who learned about Victorian mourning and Gov. Fred Warner and his family, and heard ghost stories under the moon.

Farmington resident Nathan Zajac, 8, was the first to admit his fear as he learned about ghosts during a Michigan Ghost Watchers’ presentation.

The paranormal investigation team told the crowd of their findings after investigating the mansion in the spring, which included electronic recordings of reported ghosts sounds.

One such recording was of a ghost reportedly running up on an investigator who was in the mansion’s basement.

During the question-and-answer segment, Zajac was the first to raise his hand.

“I’m scared,” he said without hesitation.

After the presentation, Zajac explained why.

“I was spooked out” he said. “If I actually heard (the footsteps), I would run out of the house.”

But Zajac trekked forward with his family, while some stayed behind to hear stories of ghosts outside by a blazing fire.

“A book lay open. Curious, he sat down in the chair and he began to read … a list of names. … He suddenly got the feeling he was not in the room alone. He looked up from the printed page, and there staring up at him from the darkened room were the glowing red eyes of demons.”

The pacing and tone of storyteller Anne Gnagi had the crowd aghast as she finished out the tale, which ended with the reader dead.

“The story is called ‘The Book of Magic,’” she said. “It is about a man who finds a book and reads it, and calls the spirits, and tries to get rid of them.”

She said stories are not just for little children, and scary stories are a way to battle real demons.

“Fear in a story is something (listeners) can control, and the story ends,” she said. “It is a way for them to be able to deal with fear.”

Aside from paranormal investigations and stories, attendees met the “ghosts” — costumed volunteers — of the Warner family, who talked about their experiences, dabbled in psychic readings and more.

Mansion volunteer Sharon Bernath said during the event that it was all about making memories at the mansion, in addition to having a little bit of Halloween fun.

“We ordered the full moon,” she said smiling. “I think (the event) really drew a lot of people. I think (the attendees) like the idea that there are ghosts, especially in this old house. It appeals to people.” 

Attendee Rosie Bradbury, of Farmington Hills, was on the tour for a second time.

“I like to hear about the historical part,” she said. “We have to know history. This is how we used to live.”