Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Leesburg, VA: Leesburg Ghost Tours Explain the Seemingly Unexplainable

From Leesburg Patch: Leesburg Ghost Tours Explain the Seemingly Unexplainable
Unique for their scientific approach to the paranormal, Leesburg ghost tours run Friday and Saturday nights now through Oct. 31.

Around October when the witches decorate our doorsteps and ghosts and goblins haunt our windowpanes, our minds turn to the super-natural. Then it is only natural that we wonder- are ghosts real?

Ghost tours have long capitalized on our mortal curiosity; however the Leesburg Ghost tours has the distinction of being started by a scientist and a skeptic.

In 1992, Joe Holbert wanted local fork-lore stories for the Loudoun Museum, when instead he received personal accounts of encounters with ghosts and spiritual entities.

Cynical, he investigated and disproved several cases, but he could not disprove 100 or so in which multiple individuals experienced unexplained sights, sounds, smells or objects moving on their own.

This led Holbert to find the Virginia Scientific Research Association (VSRA) to investigate paranormal phenomenon. What he came to find there, went on to inspire other paranormal investigators and even the television show, Ghost Hunters.

Holbert passed away a few years ago, but the VSRA continues to host ghost tours in Leesburg. Autumn tours run on Friday and Saturday nights at 9 pm, leaving from the Georgetown Café and Bakery on 19 South King Street, and extending until October 21, Halloween Night.

However, this is not the usual tour. It is not meant to scare you, as much as educate you on the latest theory on supernatural sightings.

That does not mean that sightings are debunked. On the contrary, they are explained; and participants are even tested to see if they are likely to trigger a supernatural occurrence.

The tour culminates at the county courthouse on Market Street, where tourist can touch a potent energy field. Hauntings at the courthouse are attributed to a slave named Mercer, who was quartered there.

According to the ghost tour guides, JoAnn Manriquez and Elaine Maxon, traumatic experiences can cause ghostly behavior. Less frequently, ghosts are really visiting spirits appearing in the flesh.

“While at first I hadn’t had any paranormal experience at all, on the tours I’ve smelt and heard things, I have no explanation for,” said Maxon.

However, she assured Saturday's group that the tour would not be frightening. “Once you understand what is going on [with paranormal activity]," Maxon said. "You won’t be afraid.”

Like other ghost tours, the Leesburg tour provides historical information as well as stories of ghost sightings, supported by references to historical events where applicable.

Besides the regular ghost tours, Keeler Hunt, who works for the VSRA, gives her own more scientific based tours; and while tours run on the weekend, people can request a special small group tours as well.

More information on Leesburg Ghost Tours and the Virginia Scientific Research Association can be found on their website: http://vsra.yolasite.com/