Ghostly Tour in Millville

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Millville brings its history to life this Friday with chilling stories. A fun costume contest tops off the night.

MILLVILLE, NJ — Step outside on Halloween and you’re bound to see an eclectic variety of costumes. From Superman to Batman, werewolves to vampires, mummies to ghosts.

Imaginative people thrive on this holiday, their expressive nature able to be adorned and showcased to the masses.

That’s why the Glasstown Arts District is hosting the Ghost Tour and Costume Contest in downtown Millville from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, October 26.

“It’s fun and it’s lighthearted,” said Marianne Lods, executive director of the Glasstown Arts District. “We encourage people to wear costumes.”

To label it simply as a costume contest would be a bit reductive — though there will be prizes given for top costumes — as it’s more a blend of history, art, and fun.

Certain spots in downtown Millville will be transformed to give the guests the crystallized combination of the three. At one stop on the tour you may encounter a card, tea leaf and aura reader. At another you may run into the founder of Millville, Captain Joseph Buck, regaling you with stories from the early 1800s.

“He’s going to talk about tales from the river, and what it was like founding this town.” said Lods. “He will be telling his tales at the Cumberland County College Arts & Innovation Center, so we’re excited about that.”

Though Buck obviously won’t be there in person, his spirit will be represented by a member of Millville’s Off Broad Street Players. An actor will be stationed at each stop on the tour (there are six stops) playing a different character, telling a different historical story about the town.

“They’re a very talented bunch of actors,” said Lods.

Lods was careful not to divulge too much information about the specifics of the stories told along the tour, though she’s excited about one in particular. Sometime in the 1920s a man attempted to break a Guinness world record for flagpole sitting at the Levoy Theatre, and his story will be told.

“Just be there is what I can say,” said Lods.

Lods made it clear that this isn’t just a ghostly event for Halloween that has no connection to the supernatural. In downtown Millville, there are at least two instances of ghosts frequenting locations. At the Riverfront Renaissance Center for the Arts there are several artists who have studios upstairs in the building, and have mentioned multiple times to Lods about hearing and seeing an apparition.

“The first time is usually a little bit of a shock, but after that [they get used to it],” Lods said.

Winfield’s Restaurant, down the street from the Riverfront Center, also has their own spirit. In the building, which used to be a Woolworths many years ago, Lods says a waitress from those days is still sticking around.

“One of the stories that will be relayed [by an Off Broad Street actor] is about a woman dressed in blue that’s always in the rear, in the back part,” Lods said. “[She’s] been seen by several people.”

Keep in mind that fun is one of the main portions of this event, it’s not all chilling stories and history. At 8 p.m., an hour before the event ends, there will be a costume contest held at the Riverfront Center. There will be separate categories for adults and children. Adults will be able to win a prize if their costume is: scariest, creepiest, funniest, most original or the best famous character. The children will get a prize for scariest, funniest or best famous character. Lods says the adults will win mainly gift certificates to downtown restaurants, while the children will get Five Below gift cards. Independent judges will decide the winners.

This event hasn’t been held in a few years, but that doesn’t mean Lods doesn’t remember some of the ideas that won that year. Her expectations for creativity are high.

“I remember some of the costumes, and they were far out,” Lods said.

Lods lauded the structuring of downtown Millville as a reason why this event should be a successful one, noting the intimate, snug layout, while also mentioning the eclectic selection of eateries.

“It’s an old town, so it’s just kind of a natural fit,” Lods said. “Our downtown is cozy because the streets are narrower, and it’s six blocks and that’s kind of where we have everything. Plus, there’s so many places to stop to have a bite to eat or have a full dinner, or a pub to go to, and there’s usually music on Friday nights.”

There are plenty of places to go in Millville around Halloween time if you’re looking for the scary aspect of the holiday, but there aren’t many that give you the combination being offered downtown Friday night.

“This is a much more lighthearted and fun night,” Lods said. “Learn a little about the history here in town, but also enjoy some of the things we have to offer like entertainment, and can even do a little shopping at the stores.”

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