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Halloween raises over $13,000 for the Whaley House

Pauly Corry leading the crowd


What a dedicated group of docents we have at the Whaley house. The October programs are conceived, planned, and carried out by our docents. For October events, we allow the house's haunted reputation to take center stage, a fun aspect at this time of year. With so many people eager to enter the house during the month of October, the benefits from the increase in attendance raises much needed funds for the restoration.

While we are always respectful and cautious to not make light or fun of the people who lived and died in and around the Whaley House, we do allow visitors to explore their beliefs and give them the historical background to base any assumptions on. The house has an extensive false history associated with it, and we strive to counter these fabrications developed over the decades. The visitors are happy to learn of the real historical figures and events, which only adds to their enjoyment of this historical place.

A few months prior to the start of the special October programs, a committee meets to work on a script, to develop roles, and to consider visitor satisfaction, among other details. In preparing for this year's special events, docents reviewed last October's program. In 2002, on Halloween night we had over 800 people come through the house in a 4-hour time frame. Yikes! That was too much and not fun, although the visitors did not complain. Oddly enough they just loved being in the house on Halloween. This year the committee specifically organized ways to prevent the huge crowds, and they were successful.

Over the two weekends preceding Halloween, there were special two-hour presentations involving the cemetery El Campo Santo and the Whaley house. Actors, docents, and several friends from local businesses portrayed different historic people at the cemetery. The drama culminated in the theater at the Whaley house with a one-woman show written and played by docent Jokie Tolentino. Then visitors were free to roam the house and talk with docents who were stationed throughout.

(Left to right) George Plum, Pauly Corry, Mary Jones, Charlie Bast, Bob Feldman, Jokie Tolentino, Robin & Katie Sweeton


On the two evenings before Halloween, we were open from 9 until midnight, and this brought about 100 or so visitors each night. By offering many opportunities for guests to visit the house during October, the Halloween evening results were as hoped and planned for. A more manageable crowd of just over 400 came through in groups of 30 to 40 at a time.

They began in the courtroom with talks by head docents Robin Sweeton and George Plum, and then they were able to enjoy the house. The soft sounds of a violin, courtesy of Vikki Mende Gray, emanated from the parlor. In the dimmed lights people could imagine just a bit the gentile lifestyle of the Whaley's in an evening of repose. Docents all dressed in period attire graced each room and were able to answer all nature of questions, from the history to the mystery.

Docents manned the house seven nights in total, all until well after midnight. This dedication to the house is awesome; these late hours are not easy. Because of them, we were able to raise over $13,000 dollars for restoration of the Whaley House, a project currently in process. With these funds and what was raised last Halloween, along with funds granted from Ron Roberts' office, the docents are able to see the fruits of their long hours and labor in a most gratifying and tangible way.

We thank the following people for their donation of time, energy and dedication: George Plum, Jokie Tolentino, Robin Sweeton & daughter Katie, Bob Feldman, Michelle & Lynn Hamilton, Athena Jaharis, David Swarens, Mary Jones, Charlie Bast, Casey & Billy O'Hanlon, Camille Cowlishaw, Erin Matthews, Theresa & John Fisteu, Julie Wolfe, Dave Lakin, Pauly Corry, Marie Pleasant, Helen Halmay, Dick & Ann Rupert, Melinda Lee, Alana & Bruce Coons, Vikki Mende Gray, Victor Santana, Allen Hazard & Janet O'Dea.

2003 - Volume 34, Issue 4

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