If you prefer your history with a certain "woo-woo" factor—and most kids do—take the Ghost Walk that lurks nightly on dark downtown streets, leaving from the Black Cat Shoppe at 11 Market Street. It's likely to be led by an actor temporarily between scenes over at EUE Screen Gems Studios, and he or she may therefore be somewhat inclined to put on a bit of a performance.
Tours may be led by any number of sinister characters, including an undertaker known as Digby O'Dell, a zombie called Bernie Brownshoes, a swashbuckling pirate by the name of Dreyfuss Wilder and a seafaring orphan waif called Charity LaVilaine. These are the same people who run the Hollywood Walk—no surprises there.
The guides claim that Wilmington is the most haunted city in the world, its international port teeming with pirates, cutthroats and thieves, and that there are 29 "active" sites in the historic district. That's too many stops to make in a 90-minute tour, so the route varies nightly, depending on the movements of the spirits.
And speaking of spirits, a related Haunted Pub Crawl is also on the schedule, but kids can't go on that one. There's the real tragedy, since kids would be far more likely to listen to somebody dressed up as a vampire than adults would. Well, depending on the adult.
Some presumed adults post their ghostly photos on the Ghost Walk's Facebook page, recounting their other-worldly experiences on the tour—while visiting the old dueling ground, for example, or seeing the glowing orbs at Gallow's Hill. They urge us to look deeply into their photos and see the pale woman's face in the window, and one of them describes an iPhone app called Ghost Radar that picked up text messages from the great beyond during a tour.
Similar photos may be found at the photo gallery on the Ghost Walk web site, and luckily captions explain anything out of the ordinary that allegedly appears in the photos.
Like most fiction, this one has some social redeeming value. Unwittingly your children will learn Wilmington landmarks, such as the Latimer House (five dead children in that family) and the Bellamy Mansion (presumably the spinster Ellen Bellamy looks down on Market Street from an upstairs window). An ethereal fog has been known to envelop the Burgwin-Wright House, and Thalian Hall is one packed house of performing paranormal activity.
They'll hear the cries of the slave auctions on Market Street and the cracking of whips. They'll be invited to tread on the unmarked graves of villains they don't want to be like when they grow up—because their dead bones will feel every crunching step if they don't get a proper burial due to their own misdeeds.
Fourth-grade history books should get a clue from this educational approach. It's a tie-in with TV and video games.
Reservations are required by calling 910-794-1866.