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Thursday through Sunday, storytellers will guide groups on foot and aboard horse-drawn carriages while sharing the tales handed down through generations.'
Stories told on the tours were first gathered by Susan Cato, CAPA executive director, and board members Wade Bishop and the late Sue Dickerson. They would ride around the Old Point and ask the late Roger Pinckney who lived where and what happened "which we tried to weave into the stories," Cato said.'
From the story of Blackbeard the Pirate of stealing a girl from Charleston and leaving her on Fripp Island to the experiences of moving doorknobs and rattling drawers, the storytellers weave an eerie air of excitement.'
Some of the spellbinding stories shared with the association through the years include sightings of a servant who would walk through the walls carrying a tray of biscuits. In another, a '
homeowner reported that when he would pick up the telephone, he would hear a radio playing.'
Other homeowners related stories of ghosts getting into bed with homeowners. They've been told about ghosts who tried to trip the residents as they went down the stairs. When the homeowners laughed and talked about the incidents while sitting at the dining room table, a 2-liter Coke bottle fell off a table and started spinning around "like crazy." Those homeowners have moved out.'
The tours are "good, clean hair raising kind of scary," said Kim Poovey, a 10-year veteran and the association's storyteller committee chairwoman.'
The tours began after Cato took a similar tour in Williamsburg, Va.'
"It amazes us how many people come on this every year," said Cato, who for 21 years has headed the organization that helps children who are abused and neglected throughout Beaufort County.'
The tours also bring back a tradition that was a favorite pastime before television. "You don't get a lot of storytelling anymore," said Cato. "When I was growing up, we would sit terrified in the dark on the porch when my father would tell stories. You would feel the chill up the back of your neck. People don't do that anymore. We're losing a lot of that. People are watching TV and doing other things in our fast-paced society."'
It takes more than 30 volunteers to put on the nine-day event. Volunteers include teens from the Beaufort High School Interact Club, who dress up and portray ghosts along the tour route. The association is still seeking volunteers to serve as security to accompany walking tour groups.'
"A lot of people who help us are teachers who use storytelling in their classrooms; all have a little bit of desire to entertain people," Cato said. Storytellers have experienced the chills of some of the ghosts themselves as they gave the tours. '
Before becoming a permanent resident of Beaufort, Poovey, a professional storyteller, came here as a visiting storyteller for three years. On the final night of last year's tour on New Street, Poovey felt a tug on her hoop skirt. "I turned around and said 'what do you want?'," said Poovey, a school psychologist. No one was there. "I thought it was my security person who was on the other side of the street."'
While taking some friends to the art gallery inside the Elliott House on Bay Street, Poovey had a similar scare. "I went to the front door and the doorknob started turning," Poovey recalled. "I was standing there holding the doorknob and thought, 'someone's coming out,' but I stood there for a second, and there was no one around. Some people believe it is the ghost of a little girl because they have heard her giggling in the halls." '
Poovey said she doesn't "see ghosts, but I do sense them, and sometimes they make their presence known to me."'
Growing up around Beaufort, Connie Hipp, a storyteller since the tours began, remembers seeing and feeling the presence of Dr. Buzzard, a witch doctor. "He always wore reflecting sunglasses," Hipp said.'
While renting an apartment in the Old Point, Hipp said she would frequently see a woman in the Hepworth Pringle House at Port Republic and New streets when no one was at home. "I believe you can feel the presence sometimes," Hipp said. "Even though you can't see it, I think it's real."'
Poovey is fascinated with Beaufort. "I love Beaufort with all my heart and soul," Poovey said. "You cannot imagine. I guess ghosts are just another part of her charm that makes her special -- the haunted storefronts, haunted streets and haunted houses."