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Lighting the way
Evening tours hit 25-year mark
July 02, 2007
| Old Colony Memorial
PLYMOUTH - For years, the Colonial Lantern Tours has been filling people’s heads with knowledge and their hearts with fright.
Now, as the 25th anniversary of the nightly history and ghost tours approaches, founder Diane Finn thinks back to the humble origin of this part of Plymouth’s tourism industry.
It started with small children’s walking tours, and from there the business expanded into journeys to the town’s historic district, Plymouth Rock, the Mayflower and Brewster Gardens. Finn said many of those who went on the nightly tours wanted to return to the historical locations in the daytime armed with their newfound information.
"I never thought it would go this far," Finn said.
For the quarter-century anniversary, some of the guides will lead the tours in costume, and $3 dollar coupons are being circulated to celebrate the landmark year.
Mary Guidoboni, a 15-year veteran of the tours, said she is constantly learning new things to add to the history tours.
"The more I learn, the more I want to show," Guidoboni said.
The tours are held at night, and each participant is given a reproduction of a 17th-century lantern. Twelve years after the history tours began, ghost tours were added, and Finn said there is no shortage of spirits in Plymouth. In 1778, for example, the General Arnold attempted to dock at Plymouth Harbor to ride out a bad northeast storm. The ship ran aground, however, and the men were trapped on board. After three days, 70 were found dead of the cold and were buried in a mass grave.
"People want to know about the ghosts of Plymouth," Finn said. "Our goal is to have a lot of history in our ghosts and legends."
Joyce Poremski has had her share of frights on the ghost tours she leads. One evening, a young boy pointed to a window and started shaking, saying he had seen a young girl in a store window. He claimed the girl’s face had been pressed against the window. No child could be found, but a photo of the window taken by one of the tourists showed the smudges left behind when one presses their face against glass.
"It scared the life out of all of us," Poremski said. "I was terrified. I couldn’t tell another story."
Poremski has been with the tours for 11 years and said she is not at all surprised they have lasted so long. Many of those that go on the tours often return with friends or family.
Barbara Keyes, another guide to Plymouth’s many hauntings, said each tour is different and each person has a different perspective of what they’re told. An admitted skeptic when she first began leading the tours eight years ago, now there’s many a night when Keyes swears she can feel a presence while the group walks near cemeteries.
"There are a couple of places on the tour I feel uneasy about," Keyes said. "It’s good to be a skeptic, but I’m not any longer."
The tours are held from April 1 to Nov. 27. The ghost and historical tours begin at 7:30 p.m. at Plymouth Rock, and another haunting trek starts at 9 p.m. at The John Carver Inn. Finn has 14 guides, and many more call her asking to be a part of the tours.
With all the guides, the groups can be kept small, Poremski said, which helps forge a stronger connection.
"We see ourselves as entertainers," Finn said. "But we hope they leave with an educational experience as well."
Call 774 454 8126 for reservations.