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Fort Meigs ghost walk is hair-raising fund-raising

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Education specialist Adam Sakel, inside the fort, says the deaths of these two soldiers are woven into the reports of spectral footsteps, balls of blue light, and filmy human forms seen there.

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Mist crawls over dozens of unmarked graves at Fort Meigs State Memorial Park, the final resting spot of soldiers, Indians, and pioneers laid low long ago by disease, drowning, bullets, or blows.

It's no surprise that the Perrysburg fort has an annual Garrison Ghost Walk fund-raiser. It has all the ingredients for apparitions: a creepy atmosphere, violent history, bones and bodies, and a lively volunteer corps that loves to dress up in period costume and spin tales.

Starting tonight, lantern-bearing guides will take groups through the reconstructed fort, where eight bonfires will light up storytellers with hair-raising experiences to share. The tours begin at 7 p.m. and continue tomorrow and Oct. 25-26.

Education specialist Adam Sakel said he's a skeptic, but visitors who stay at the fort during summertime living history encampments sometimes experience spectral footsteps, balls of blue light, and filmy human forms. Local psychics who examined the site during reconstruction work reported it “highly charged with supernatural energy,” Mr. Sakel said.

Doug Dziama, a freelance writer from Lorain, Ohio, said he'll be at the Ghost Walk tonight.

Mr. Dziama's walked the fort three times now, he said, tapping on doors, scaling the redoubts, snapping photos. “It felt a little weird,” he said. “Then I saw how the pictures turned out. One of them is incredible - a beautiful digital image of Blockhouse Three, one place they say is haunted. I captured a cloud of ectoplasmic mist!”

“Blockhouse Three. That's where people see a woman and child looking out the window, when nobody has a key to get inside,” said John Destatte, for 11 years a history re-enactor and a storyteller at the annual event. He takes his ectoplasm with a grain of salt.

“Some people see a Native American man up there. ... And over between Blockhouse Six and Seven, you'll feel the hair stand up on the back of your neck. People stay away from there after dark,” Mr. Destatte said. “Someone will see a re-enactor walking along the traverse and admire his outfit, his ‘kit,' we call it. He'll turn to his friend and tell him to check out this guy's kit. And they'll turn back and nobody will be there.”

He said he's spent many nights at the fort and never experienced anything otherworldly. “One of [the ghosts] walks up to me and says hello and shakes my hand, then I'll believe it,” Mr. Destatte said.

Appearances aren't guaranteed, but Mr. Dziama is primed for an evening of history done up in spooky costumes. “It's a place of war and death and carnage,” he said. “Something is there, and I want to see it.”

Admission is $5 for adults, $1.25 for children ages 6 to 12, and free for children 5 and under. Proceeds benefit the Old Northwest Military History Association. For reservations, call the fort at 419-874-4121.

For those planning a pilgrimage to the popular Ghosts of Providence walk this weekend in Grand Rapids, if you don't have a ticket, don't go. Event organizers say the walks sold out two weeks ago.

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