For anyone who has a hard time believing in spirits, demons and ghosts, the Norcross Ghost Tours may at least stir a bit of skepticism.
Having run every October for the past four years, the tours made a return for Friday the 13th to kick off the summer and fall tours. Led by historian Sally Toole (also a Norcross Patch writer) and ghost hunter Will Aymerich, this hybrid ghost tour allows guests to learn a bit of Norcross history and step into the paranormal in Norcross.
This season's Ghost Tours, which are now produced by Toole herself, has some new stories, but are similar in length (one and a half hours) and have the same format as previous seasons: A guide takes each group to different downtown spots, such as Skin Alley and Lillian Webb Park, to meet storytellers. On Friday, Toole, her son Mark and his fiance, Robyn Dooley, spun the tales.
Toole tells stories like nobody's business, captivating audiences to hang onto her every word. Effie Nash, a woman who checked into the Brunswick Hotel in the late 1890s but "doesn't remember checking out," is a central character that Toole weaves into her stories, along with a tale about a boy who haunted the Blue House Market during its renovations.
The tales are all based on fact, too. As a historian, Toole has interviewed Norcross natives who remember the town as a railroad city, and she's written two novels on the history: "Remembering Norcross" and "Souls of Norcross: A Railroad Town With an Afterlife," which was co-written by Aymerich and accompanies the ghost tours, too.
"I've had 10-year-olds on the tour, and they're learning history," said Toole.
Toole's part of the tour ends at the Norcross parsonage, an old, white house next to the Lionheart Theatre Company. There, guests are greeted by Norcross Paranormal, the Aymerich-led team of ghost hunters who offer professional paranormal investigations. For an additional cost, guests can experience a ghost hunt and an electronic voice phenomenon session of the parsonage, which teaches about EVPs, trigger objects and recording devices, all while in the house.
The parsonage is believed to be the site of two girls who died separately in the same "creepy" bedroom, one girl named Anna Lisa who passed away of pneumonia and the other by what is believed to be foul play. Many members in Norcross Paranormal said they've seen Anna Lisa on multiple occasions around town, including in the window of Mojito's.
Aymerich asks other specialists in the paranormal field to join in the ghost hunts, too. Friday's preview had an array of extras: Alexandra Breed, a 19-year-old psychic/medium and animal communicator, who also had an animal reading event Saturday at Iron Horse Tavern; Reese Christian, a psychic medium and detective who's worked with the Cold Case Investigative Research Institute and appeared on CNN and "The Today Show"; and Wartime Paranormal, run by two young Marietta women who investigate battle sites and other places in the state.
On this particular evening, the guests didn't experience anything personally, but some paranormal activity was documented. Breed said she saw a woman in a long dress looking at herself in a bathroom mirror, and Christian sensed the memories of two separate traumatic events, both on the main floor and an upstairs bedroom.
At the end of the evening, some eerie things occurred, too: Will said Breed succeeded in "crossing Anna Lisa over" to the light, a demon's presence was recognized downstairs, and one of the Wartime investigators said she felt someone walk up to her from behind when no one visible was there.
The Norcross Ghost Tours will be available throughout the summer and for private tours, as well. The tours are $7, and the ghost hunt is $10. There aren't specific dates for the tours yet, but visit theNorcross Ghost Tours website and call Sally at 404-934-4805 for more information.