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Spirit Stroll changing hands

By TRAVIS WEIK and LISA PERRY - tweik@thecouriertimes.com

The annual ghost walk through downtown New Castle will have a new guide this year.

Former “ghostess” Lisa Perry, who originated the New Castle Spirit Stroll in 2014, is stepping down to accept a position in Virginia State Parks that will include designing and implementing Halloween projects there that will require her presence. 

“I’ve so enjoyed leading the Spirit Stroll for the last five years,” Perry said. “The Spirit Stroll Team has been so supportive and I will miss very much coming to work with them every October.”

Perry is handing the spooky stroll over to Carrie Barrett and Brenda Grider, two familiar faces in the downtown events world.

Barrett is the executive director of New Castle Downtown. Grider organizes the Broad Street Cruise-Ins each summer.

“Lisa Perry has done a great job of growing the event and being a wonderful ‘ghostess,’” Barrett said.

Perry started the Spirit Stroll as an annual civic event in 2014.

The Spirit Stroll retraces the last known route of 9 year old Catherine Winters, who disappeared mysteriously March 20, 1913.

Perry based the Spirit Stroll on the books “Haunted Henry County,” written by her mother, Charlene Perry.

The stroll has drawn large crowds since its inception, and had to be limited to 75 participants for crowd control after the 2016 Stroll topped 170 walkers. 

“This event has always been a labor of love for me,” Perry said. “I’m sure Mom would be happy to know her idea has grown into such a special and cherished event that honors Catherine’s memory.”

Barret said New Castle Downtown will work together with the city to make sure organizers pull off a fun, family activity for the community.

The 2019 Spirit Stroll is still in its planning phase. It is one of several events the Downtown Merchants Association will discuss March 20, Barret said.

“We’re not exactly sure how it will look this year, but we know that it will be focused on our downtown merchants and businesses,” Barrett said. “We hope the new plaza will be the center of the stroll.”

In years past, Barrett and New Castle Downtown have supplied cider and donuts to people on the stroll.  

Perry said the Spirit Stroll Team also includes: Henry County Cemetery Commission President Donna Tauber, who tells spooky stories of the 14th Street Pioneer Cemetery; Denny Adams from the Knights of Pythias, who provides many ghostly tales of the resident K of P haunt named Margaret; and Scott and Betty Perry, who lent logistics support annually.

The Henry County Sheriff’s Office joined the team in 2017 and sent Brent Grider to provide eerie tales of courthouse hauntings.

Kandice Marie, who wrote the movie “Catherine,” took part in 2018, as did “Out of the Shadows” podcast host Shane Waters, who regaled the crowd with a digitally remastered version of the song, “Where Did Catherine Winters Go?”

Former Spirit Stroll team members have included Henry Township Trustee Nancy Webb, past Courier-Times Publisher Bob Hansen, and Mayor Greg York.