A walk through Riverside’s haunted history

By Laith Salama / Staff Writer, Yasmeen Salama / Inscape Editor

Getting into the spirit (Allison Perez / Photo Editor)

By Laith Salama / Staff Writer, Yasmeen Salama / Inscape Editor

The Mission Inn area of Riverside is known for its many art walks, its Christmas festivities, its coffee shops and its numerous antique malls. But only during Halloween is Riverside’s haunted history brought to light.

The California Riverside Ballet presented its 20th Annual Ghost Walk of Riverside on Oct. 28-29, two nights of games, candy, music,  face-painting, popcorn and occurrences of the other-worldly sort.

Put together by Riverside locals and demonstrated mostly by local high school theater departments, the Ghost Walk was a tour of various locations in Riverside that have a notably haunted history.

The tour began with a high school dance troupe performing a zombie dance that was both well-choreographed and well-danced, though the act did scare some of the kids.

In any case, what better way to get everyone into the spirit of Halloween than to start off with a zombie apocalypse?

Then began the actual tour, a walk around the Mission Inn area beginning with an account of Riverside’s somewhat unknown haunted history about the spiritual woman Eliza Tibbets and how the hauntings of Riverside began.   

At each location afterwards, a local volunteer told a story about ghosts, spirits, and strange, supernatural happenings of the other worldly kind, often supplemented with basic, low budget demonstrations.

From the ghost bride who haunts the Mission Inn, to a ghost sighting at the local library, and then to the ghost of the Fox Theater’s projectionist from the 1920s, each story came in the form a little skit put on by local volunteers or high school drama departments.

It was a good idea and though it was not perfect, and often slipped into the category of cute, it was worth the time, if not the $10 admission.

The stories were fun and though they felt at times like a history lesson, the volunteers did a good job telling them.

It was in no way scary, and it was not supposed to be. The tour offered good clean fun for the whole family but the main tour was not the only one offered.

The “Dark Dreams” tour offered a little more frightening experiences for those interested in less family friendly exploits.

Most of the stories in the “Dark Dreams” tour were told by high school drama departments and carried a little more substance, taking tour members to different locations such as the coffee house “Back to the Grind” and “Relish Café.”

But it wasn’t just a Ghost Walk.

It was also a festival based around the Ghost Walk that provided an almost carnival atmosphere in addition the frights.

There were vendors selling a variety of useless merchandise. A brass band played on a stage set up in the middle of the vendors, playing everyone’s favorite Halloween tunes, such as melodies from “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” And there were plenty of distractions for the kids, including a limbo contest that saw all the kids disqualified for ducking under the bar, and a hula hoop contest that also did not produce any winners.

Many people took the opportunity to wear costumes though it was mostly the children all dressed up. For every person dressed up in a costume, there were about three or four dressed as pirates.

What happened to the good old fashioned ghost outfit?

In and of itself the Ghost Walk wasn’t the next Halloween Horror Night’s or Knot’s Scary Farm, however, it made for a fun evening for local families as well as for the high school performers to not only have a chance to practice their act but also to participate in local history.

It was great to have a local festivity, sponsored by local businesses such as Lamar Advertising and Riverside Magazine.

Something family friendly, a concept that’s kind of been going by the wayside of late, and gratifying to the whole community, California Riverside Ballet’s 20th Annual Ghost Walk, was a hit with the locals and is sure to be back for its 21st festival next Halloween season.  

Getting into the spirit (Allison Perez / Photo Editor)