TOUR COM­PANY’S AIM IS TRUE

Com­bin­ing his­tory and para­nor­mal tales in down­town Fort My­ers

RSWLiving - - Departments - BY KLAU­DIA BALOGH Klau­dia Balogh is an Ed­i­to­rial As­sis­tant for TOTI Me­dia.

Hav­ing lived in Fort My­ers for six years, I’ve heard a lot about the bright his­tory of the town and the great per­son­al­i­ties whose in­flu­ence is still felt—from Thomas Edi­son and Henry Ford to Teddy Roo­sevelt. What I didn’t know, how­ever, was that the city has a dark side as well—or I should say para­nor­mal. I went to ex­plore this side of the town on True Tours’ Haunted His­tory Tour in down­town Fort My­ers on a hu­mid, stormy Florida evening.

These sto­ries will give you goose bumps and leave you with ques­tions as you walk through the al­ley­ways of the River District.

Gina Tay­lor, founder and owner of True Tours, says the Haunted His­tory Tour is not de­signed to be a “corny” ghost tour. “What I de­cided to do is take the his­tory and blend it with para­nor­mal ac­tiv­ity,” she says.

The 90-minute tour starts and ends at the Franklin Shops on First Street, run­ning from 8 to 9:30 p.m. ev­ery Wed­nes­day and Satur­day.

Roam­ing through the streets of the River District fol­low­ing tour guide Laura Farmer, I heard sto­ries that would make me think twice if I were to en­ter any of those build­ings we stopped

Roam­ing through the streets of the River District fol­low­ing tour guide Laura Farmer, I heard sto­ries that would make me think twice if I were to en­ter any of those build­ings we stopped by on the tour.

by on the tour. For ex­am­ple, the old Ho­tel Michi­gan: It burned down in Novem­ber 1914, then was re­built as the Grey­stone Ho­tel two years later; how­ever, some­thing was not right af­ter it closed in the 1970s. As a mat­ter of fact, any­one who worked on its ren­o­va­tions got sick and had to leave the job un­fin­ished. One time, even a psy­chic was hired to see what she would find, and what she saw could have been the ex­pla­na­tion of the build­ing’s mys­tery—I’ll leave the end of the story for Farmer to tell. This is only one of the para­nor­mal sto­ries she has for you if you are up for a creepy his­tor­i­cal evening in Fort My­ers.

To keep the tour cred­i­ble, Tay­lor says she adds sto­ries only if at least three re­li­able sources tell her the same de­tails. “It’s re­puted para­nor­mal ac­tiv­ity; you can’t prove it, but we wanted to give the tour va­lid­ity by adding the his­tor­i­cal com­po­nent to it that was ac­cu­rate,” Tay­lor says.

At each tour stop, Farmer says, most guests get their phones and cam­eras out and start snap­ping pho­tos, hop­ing they will spot some­thing they can’t fully ex­plain peer­ing through the win­dows.

Not ev­ery­one was so ea­ger, though, to take pho­tos. Seventeen-year-old Katie Melzer from Cape Co­ral took the tour with her par­ents, and be­cause she be­lieves in the para­nor­mal world, she would rather pass on tak­ing pic­tures: “I don’t want my phone to be de­mo­nized,” she says.

Some guests come skep­ti­cal and leave skep­ti­cal, but Farmer has rea­son to be­lieve those sto­ries she tells may be true. She has been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing para­nor­mal ac­tiv­ity since she was 18 years old. “I’m a be­liever,” she says. “While I don’t go out and seek out the para­nor­mal, I have a healthy re­spect for it.”

The 90-minute tour starts and ends at the Franklin Shops on First Street, run­ning from 8 to 9:30 p.m. ev­ery Wed­nes­day and Satur­day.

True Tours guide Laura Farmer raises the very real pos­si­bil­ity of para­nor­mal ac­tiv­ity in the old court­house in down­town Fort My­ers.

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