MYSTIC — With a colonial history dating back to the 1630s, Mystic has seen its share of tragic, controversial and joyful events. But are there spirits in the area bound to their favorite buildings and neighborhoods?
Some don’t believe in such affairs, but Courtney McInvale Reardon of Seaside Shadows has done the research, and she can tell you tales of the paranormal that have been reported in this village by the sea. In fact, some stories are contemporary and might be from people you know.
Reardon runs Haunted Walking Tours of Mystic, a new business that meets at Mystic River Park. Her tour of Mystic’s haunts is about one mile long and lasts about an hour. At points along the way she discusses history, legend and the experiences that some have encountered.
Reardon, originally from central Connecticut, had experiences in her teen years that were paranormal and thus became interested in the unknown. The paranormal investigators Lorraine and Ed Warren of “Amityville Horror” fame, founders of the New England Society for Psychic Research, checked out her residence, she said, and “they verified the presence of spirits. To this day, the people that live there have reported them,” she said, completely confident it was not imaginary.
She is not a “ghost hunter,” using infrared lights or recorders. She considers herself a realist, an investigator and a historian.
“I worked on the research for at least a year,” she said, “with the historical societies, building owners and the tenants. Mystic is unique. It has a long history and is very walkable. I spent a lot of time here when I was younger, so when I saw there were no ‘haunted’ night tours here I thought it was perfect. And there are a lot of stories here.”
Adorned in a black cloak and carrying an oil lamp, Reardon looks the part on this windy and misty night. Taking a group on one of her tours, curiosity gets the best of many passers-by, as heads turn and ears strain to see what’s going on. Her tales aren’t scary or threatening, but they are captivating.
Mystic’s haunted past begins with the Pequot Indian tribe. From 1634 to 1638, white settlers engaged in a campaign to gain control of southeastern Connecticut. Seven hundred of the natives, mostly women and children, were massacred in one hour in an encampment less than one mile from the harbor.
Along the way, she stops at several buildings and popular restaurants, detailing their factual history and their folklore. In some cases she tells stories from staff members of the businesses, stories verified by customers. Whitehall Mansion is not on the tour but it is the location of an unusual number of paranormal experiences. “They have been reported by the staff and the guests,” she said. Special events have been scheduled at the mansion, the next one being on Oct. 28 at 7 p.m.
Tours of Mystic are available Thursday through Sundays at 7 p.m. From Oct. 25 to 31, tours are available at 7 and 9 p.m. She hopes to run the tours and hold special events at some local haunted locations throughout the year.
Tickets are $15 purchased at the time of the tour. Advance ticket sales are available online at $13.50. These may be purchased up to 24 hours before the event begins and no refunds are available after purchase. Cameras are welcome and encouraged for still photography only; cameras can pick up paranormal evidence that perhaps the naked eye cannot. Video recording, however, is not allowed, nor are pets, and children only above the age of 13 are recommended. Private tours are available. Visit www.seasideshadows.com for more information.