By Alex Groves
Los Rios Street, California’s oldest neighborhood, is a beautiful sight to see during the daytime, but it can be a little spooky in the evening with its dim lighting and big, shady trees.
That atmosphere is perfect for The Ghosts & Legends Tour, an annual happening put on by the San Juan Capistrano Historical Society, organizer Harrison Taylor said.
The tours, which return this year on Oct. 26 and 27, have actors dress up as the ghosts of historical figures who come out of the shadows and regale audiences with spooky San Juan Capistrano folklore that has been passed down from generation to generation.
This is the first year Taylor, a historical society volunteer, is in charge of the event. Taylor is taking over for former organizer Lorie Porter, who recently retired from the Historical Society’s board.
Taylor, whose family lives on Los Rios, has a long history with the event. He said he has seen the tours happen year after year for almost his whole life.
In recent years he has been helping out with putting the event on, managing ticket sales, site set-up and decorations.
“I think it’s one of the best events of the year that we host,” he said.
Taylor said this year will bring some exciting new changes to the event.
Two of the actors playing ghosts are veterans of the event, but 10 other actors — many of them from the Camino Real Playhouse — are brand new.
“We had this influx of people that just stepped up and it’s been unbelievable,” Taylor said. “We had more actors than we had spots so we added new spots.”
For example this will be the first year the “ghost” of Orange County’s First Judge, Richard Egan, is scheduled to take audiences on a tour.
“He’s never been a part of the story and now he is,” Taylor said.
Tickets for the event are $5 for children and $10 for adults but this the first year the Historical Society is adding some new ticket options.
Guests who buy a $35 ticket will be able to enjoy tacos and two drinks from a taco cart that will be stationed in the area.
There is also a $75 ticket that gives 25 guests each evening a private dining experience in the recently restored 1794 Silvas Adobe.
Those guests will also receive a special presentation from the OC Ghosts and Legends Group, an organization dedicated to paranormal research.
The group’s investigators check out businesses, historical landmarks and homes for paranormal activity. They will be giving a presentation about what they found at the O’Neill Museum, Arley Leck House and Silvas Adobe during each night’s dinner.
All of the proceeds from the event go directly to the Historical Society for its goal of restoring and maintaining historic structures and toward the payment of the society’s one staff member.
Taylor said the event wows people yearly, whether they’re seeing it for the first time or they’ve taken the tour before. He said many people return for the tour year after year.
“It attracts everybody,” he said. “It’s a fun event and people get to connect with history in a little bit different format and that’s through the ghost stories.”
IF YOU GO
What: Ghost & Legends Tour
When: Friday, Oct. 26 & Saturday, Oct. 27—6:30 p.m., 7 p.m. or 7:30 p.m.
Where: Begins at the O’Neill Museum, 31831 Los Rios Street, San Juan Capistrano
Tickets: $10 for adults, $5 for children. Additional ticket options available. All donations benefit historical preservation.
For more information, email email@example.com.