Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Mount Dora Ghost Walk

Usually, a "ghost tour" in any given city consists of a tour guide walking you or driving you around the city, showing you locales with haunted legends, and giving a dry discourse of specious details like "On this site in 1877, Annabelle Eglon's headless body was found in the garden with one of her shoes missing, and they say at night you can see her ghost walking the garden, looking for her lost shoe, if not her lost head." Really, you could stay home and look at the internet and save yourself the bother.

Not so in Mount Dora. There, the tour guides are actors dressed in period costume, and have woven an elaborate unified-field-theory of local paranormal legends, creating a fascinatingly theatrical mythology of how all the incidents are linked together by the characters they portray. Not only does their ninety-minute performance involve comedy, storytelling, improvisation and parlor magic, it concludes with a marionette theater show. These people are nuts, and God bless 'em.

The show's founders, Andrew Mullen and Hector De Leon, declare themselves the pioneers of the exciting new field of "Cracker Gothic", in much the same manner as when I coined the term "Appalachian Voodoo" in the 1990s to describe a number of overlapping cultural phenomena in my home state of Kentucky. The show's plot posits a rather Steampunk-ish man-made gateway in space and time, known as the Keyhole Vortex. This vortex, according to the story, teleports humans and ghosts back and forth between points on the time track and beyond. The vortex, they say, is the cause of all bizarre events throughout history, with Florida as its epicenter.

Hell, they've got me totally sold on the concept, but not as a fictional one.

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