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In a year that’s been anything but, storyteller JD Thomas’s haunted tours will make those eerie October evenings feel a bit more normal—paranormal, even—with stories of ghosts and ghouls, local folklore and mysterious occurrences.
Thomas, who you may otherwise know from his completely different persona as Santa from the Great Raleigh Trolley Santa Express, has led haunted tours on the trolley through downtown Raleigh for the past three Halloweens. But this year, due to COVID, Thomas is taking his tour to the streets of North Hills. Though the format will change, Thomas says, his spooky stories will be the same.
Thomas has devoted much research to Raleigh’s haunted past, and, as an engineer for Amtrak, he’s got a few stories of his own to tell.
“I like spooky, I have fun with it,” Thomas says. “People want to hear these stories. They don’t know a lot about Raleigh’s haunted history.” The tour will be interactive, too, so tour takers can ask Thomas questions and tell him what they think. But some of the stories can be pretty frightening, Thomas says, so he doesn’t recommend the tour for children under 13.
Thomas’s haunted walking tours take place Friday and Sunday evenings, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Groups will meet in the outdoor foyer between STIR and Capital Grille, where Thomas plans to host Halloween-themed cocktails from STIR while waiting for guests to arrive. A Saturday evening tour, beginning at 5 p.m. at Union Station, will also be available. Costumes are highly recommended; Thomas will be dressed in a black top hat, dark round glasses and a black tuxedo, with his signature long beard and a cane for a creepy crypt-keeper vibe. “It’s not as jovial as Santa Claus,” Thomas jokes. “When I wear that outfit, I transform into the storyteller of Raleigh.”
Thomas’s tours will follow all government-mandated COVID regulations, including spacing people six feet apart and requiring face coverings. With local communities already cancelling fall festivities and even trick-or-treating due to the pandemic, Thomas says the haunted walking tour will be perfect for people looking for something to do to celebrate Halloween this month. Each haunted tour will be capped at 10 people. Tickets cost $30 per person; call (919) 889-4499 to reserve your spot.
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