Halloween weekend plans

Visitors Bureau
Communications Director Jay Humphreys with the St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches Visitors and Convention Bureau has reported to Historic City News several special events for this weekend that may be of interest to our readers.

Friday and Saturday: October 31 – November 1

A GHOSTLY ENCOUNTER HALLOWEEN TOURS
Have a frighteningly good time on the Halloween version of the Ghostly Encounter Tour. The Doctor is always in ….at the Haunted Hospital! Enter…if you have the guts… and check in with the MAD Surgeon…..as he demonstrates the “cutting” edge of patient care. Then join Ancient City Tours guides and walk the dark, narrow streets of St. Augustine and hear stories of those who came before us and refuse to leave. Tours run from 7 to 10 p.m. from The Spanish Military Hospital, 3 Aviles Street, St. Augustine. Tickets are $12 per person. For more information call 904.827.0807

GHOSTS OF THE MATANZAS
Join the ghostly pirate that has commandeered the 72′ Schooner Freedom and holds passengers captive as they sail the dark waters of Matanzas Bay. Entertaining tales and assistance from the captives are the highlight of this adventure– not to mention the rations and grog that add to the enjoyment. BEWARE–‘thar be pirates here’. Tours cast off this Wednesday through Saturday nights at 8:15 p.m. from the St. Augustine City Marina. Tickets are $35 for adults and kids 2 -12 are $25. For more information, call 904.810.1010. Reservations are required for these tours.

RIPLEY’S GHOST TRAIN ADVENTURE
Board the Ghost Train and depart from Ripley’s Castle Warden for a ride through the haunted streets of old St. Augustine. Voted “Best Ghost Tour” by St. Augustine Record subscribers, the 90-minute journey includes eerie stops along the way where tales are told and guests can use Electro-Magnetic-Field Meters to identify the presence of spirits. After hearing stories of the local haunts, passengers enter the historic Castle Warden for a sleuthing experience based on actual events. Tours start from Ripley’s Castle Warden, 19 San Marco Avenue at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $26 for adults and $13 for children 6 -12. Reservations are required. For more information, call 904.824.1606

FAMILY FRIGHT NIGHTS
There’s a Halloween event for every member of the family when Ripley’s Believe It or Not! presents Family Fright Nights. Wednesday through Saturday, you can climb aboard the Haunted Express for a 45-minute ride through the Oldest City’s most haunted sites. The Haunted Express pulls out of Ripley’s station each evening at 7, 8 & 9 p.m. –tickets are $18 for adults and $10 for children. Suitable for children of all ages, the Family Fun Ghost Walk heads out from Ripley’s Castle Warden on Friday and Saturday evening at 6 and 7 p.m. Tickets for this non-threatening, 30-minute walk are $5. Don’t miss Spooky Dan the DJ performing from the rooftop of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! on Friday and Saturday night from 6 to 9 p.m. In addition to spinning Halloween tunes, Spooky Dan will be tossing candy and prizes to the crowd below – including the various ghouls, vampires and creatures roaming the grounds. Of course, Ripley’s popular Ghost Train and Ghost Walk Adventures will be operating as well. Ripley’s Believe It or Not! is located at 19 San Marco Avenue in St. Augustine. For more information, call 904.824.1606.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday: October 31 – November 2

A GHOSTLY EXPERIENCE
Selected at the best ghost tour in Florida by the readers of Florida Monthly magazine, this 60-minute walking tour by candlelight includes eerie stories, stops at cemeteries (marked and unmarked), haunted restaurants, homes, inns and the Castillo de San Marcos. A Ghostly Experience tours depart every night at 8 p.m. from Ghost Central, 2 St. George Street, across from the City Gate. Tickets are $12. For more information, call 904.829.1122.

Ghosts and Gravestones
Every Night’s the Night! Enjoy a most haunting experience on a St. Augustine “Frightseeing” Tour that explores the darker side of St. Augustine’s past. The only tour that takes you inside the three most haunted places in the entire city. Haunts include: The Old Drug Store that rests upon an old Indian burial ground and is a natural gathering place for lost souls and malignant spirits. Enter… and in darkness you will learn the secrets of embalming and why so many people were buried alive; The Spanish Military Hospital where you can visit a death bed and hear of amputations and strange medical practices shared in whispered tones as you re-live the grizzly duties of 17th century medical practitioners; and The Old Jail built in 1891 and housed prisoners for more than 60 years. Listed on the Florida and National Haunted Places Register, the Old Jail has been the site of countless supernatural occurrences. Tours depart nightly at 8 p.m. from the Old Town Trolley Welcome Center at 27 San Marco Avenue (next door to Ripley’s Believe It or Not!) Tickets are $26 for adults and $14 for children. For more information and reservations, call 904.829.3800

Saturday: November 1

HISTORIC WEAPONS FIRING DEMONSTRATION
Take the National Park Service’s ferry to Rattlesnake Island and experience daily military life at Fort Matanzas – the 18th century Spanish fort that guarded the southern approach to St. Augustine. From 10:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., authentically clad re-enactors will demonstrate Spanish muskets and cannons at the fort. Admission is free. Fort Matanzas National Monument is located on A1A at the south end of Anastasia Island approximately 15 miles south of St. Augustine. For more information, call 904.471.0116

Sunday: November 2

23rd ANNUAL GREAT CHOWDER DEBATE
Satisfy your passion for great seafood chowder at the Conch House Marina’s celebrated annual Great Chowder Debate. More than 30 area restaurants will compete to see who has the best chowder – each special entry is available for tasting with taste tickets sold for $1 each. An astounding variety of chowders will be available – from local favorites like the Menorcan chowders to an assortment of New England chowders – made with clams, conch, lobster, scallops and crab and laced with secret concoctions of herbs and spices. The event starts at noon and runs throughout the day. All proceeds benefit the Shriners’ Hospitals for Crippled Children. The Conch House Marina is located at 57 Comares Avenue in St. Augustine. For more information, call 904.829.8646.

Wings Over Florida Kayak Tour
Leave from the lush tropical gardens of Washington Oaks Gardens State Park on a 2-hour ecological kayak tour of the Matanzas River Estuary from 10 a.m. to noon. Only accessible by kayak, discover untouched waterways and enjoy the beauty of natural Florida! Tour package includes admission into the park, all equipment, professional naturalist / kayak guide, and photos taken by your guide. No experience is required and the tour is appropriate for ages 12 and up. The fee is $45 per person. For more information, call 904.347.1565

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