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Ghost Walk to highlight Bordenton City’s ‘haunted’ sites

Oct 17, 2013 05:47AM ● Published by Community News Service

By Lexie Yearly

With the endless number of historic homes in Bordentown City, it’s almost certain there are a few ghost stories floating around the small town.

More than a decade ago, former Bordentown resident Arlene Bice began writing them down. The documentation of local spooky stories sparked the now-annual tradition of the Bordentown City Ghost Walk, sponsored by the Downtown Bordentown Association.

Bice, a DBA member and local business owner, would constantly hear ghost stories from customers at her Farnsworth Avenue shop, and wound up writing two books full of anonymous tales from around town.

Since Bice moved to North Carolina a few years later, president of the Bordentown Historical Society Patti DeSantis has coordinated the Ghost Walk.

From old houses’ creaks and groans to unexplained lights and smells, stories range from tales of historical figures to present day experiences.

Bice had collected about 30 stories about local occurrences; it’s been several years since any new stories have surfaced, but in early September, DeSantis was chasing down two new stories.

DeSantis has had her own share of unexplained encounters at the Clara Barton Schoolhouse, which sits across from her own home.

Her first encounter at the schoolhouse was when the inside of the building was being redone before the annual Holiday House Tour several years ago. A panel in the ceiling was removed, and as DeSantis looked up, she saw some movement in the exposed attic.

For a brief moment, she thought she was looking at the face of a young boy, with another boy standing behind him.

Another day, she unlocked the small building and set to work cleaning the inside. As she worked, she kept noticing fleeting dark shadows in each of the windows.

“It just kept happening, like somebody was running around the building,” said DeSantis, who kept running outside herself to see what was going on. The front end of the property is fenced in, so it’s impossible to run circles around the building without staying on the perimeter of the fence.

Since she began working on the ghost tour, she’s become familiar with many of the rumored haunted sites around town.

One of the favorite stories she’s heard, though, is the story of a woman who lived at the end of Farnsworth Avenue in the 1800s.

The woman married a man she didn’t really love, DeSantis said, but made plans one night to run away with her lover. The next morning, though, the woman’s dead body was found, and the belief was that she had committed suicide by throwing herself off the bluff.

To this day, people say they still see the shadowy white ghost haunting the bluff, DeSantis said.

For Pat Patrizio and Frank Rios on Thompson Street, the ghostly encounters are constant. Known for coordinating the detailed Halloween décor on Thompson Street each year, Patrizio and Rios have experienced no shortage of unexplained circumstances in their home.

“When I first bought the house, I had painters there, and they kept saying to me, ‘Somebody is in your house,’” Patrizio said.

The painters at the house said they would hear footsteps while working in the empty house, only to check later and see that the doors were locked.

Now, Patrizio said it’s common to see doors opening and closing on their own, the doorknobs turning themselves. Even the cat gets spooked.

Twice, though, Patrizio has seen a figure in the house—it’s a man who simply stands there, Patrizio said, and the feeling was quite unnerving. He’s grown used to the creaks and groans now though; before the move to Thompson Street, Patrizio had lived in another historic, haunted house, and said he’s no stranger to encounters with the supernatural.

“As long as they don’t break anything, they’re welcome to stay, that’s the way I look at it,” Patrizio said.

Unexplained happenings have convinced skeptical homeowners, too. City resident Jackie Reed had never believed in ghosts, but the number of outlandish events she experienced eventually began to make her question their existence.

She had lived in another Bordentown City home for 30 years before moving to her current abode, and over the course of those 30 years, a number of events transpired.

Just a year after Reed and her family had moved into the house, her father brought over his new Polaroid camera. Reed sat at the kitchen table with her husband and 4-year-daughter as they posed for a picture, but to everyone’s surprise, a fourth person appeared in the developed image: a ghostly-looking older woman, with curls so tight they looked like rollers, had somehow appeared next to Reed’s daughter in the family photo.

A few years later, Reed had a potentially life-saving experience.

“I heard somebody call my name and grab my toe and wake me up,” Reed said. “So I got up and went out of room and went in the hallway, and I smelled smoke.”

Reed’s brother, who was living with her family at the time, had begun cooking something on the stove and accidentally fell asleep, while Reed’s kitchen caught on fire. She ran back to wake up her husband, and managed to keep the flames at bay.

But it was one less dramatic episode that finally pushed Reed to believe. She woke up one night to her bedroom door opening, and a figure next to her bed.

“I thought at first it was my daughter, because it was a short person in white flowy gown,” she said.

The next instant, the figure vanished.

The plethora of stories around town seem to have convinced DeSantis to believe, too.

“I think there’s probably something out there,” she said. “There’s got to be something to it.”

The Bordentown City Ghost Walk is scheduled for Oct. 27 from 6-9 p.m. Tours depart every 10 minutes from the Old Book Shop at 200 Farnsworth Ave., and each tour lasts about an hour. The last tour leaves at 8 p.m. Cost is $10 ($5 for children 8 and younger). For more information, call Doug Palmieri at (609) 324-9909. On the Web: downtownbordentown.com.

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