Haunted history: Henricus to host night of horror under harvest moon

Those brave enough to have seen the autumn sun set over Henricus would say that the mood changes once night falls upon the lost citie. Some would say that there’s a reason why the gates close at dusk. Some would go as far as to say you’re never truly alone at night.

On the evenings of Oct. 22-23, Henricus Historical Park invites you to come see for yourself at Haunted Henricus: Things That Go Bump in the Dark at its location at 251 Henricus Park Road in Chester. From 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Henricus, the site of the second successful English settlement in North America, will present a night of chilling, captivating tales told by historical interpreters impersonating colonists from the 17th century. Tours of the park will be conducted each night for one unsettling hour. The event also includes a performance of Dark of the Moon by the Thomas Dale High School Drama Department beginning at 5 p.m. and ending at 6:45 p.m.

According to John Pagano, historical interpretation supervisor of Henricus, the event will certainly be unsuitable for children under age 5. “The environment itself is pretty scary,” he said.

The only illumination during the event will come from candles, campfires and moonlight. Expect daunting tales told by Colonial impersonators and period-dress interpreters, whose stories will incorporate an array of legends and folklore from alleged hauntings in the park at night.

September 2010 marked the beginning of a year-long celebration commemorating the 400th year since the settlement’s establishment in the early 17th century. Haunted Henricus is one of many events to come during the much celebrated year.

“There is no better time to bring your family to Henricus Historical Park than during the year of our 400th commemoration,” Charles Lewis Grant, acting executive director, says in a press release. “Events such as ‘Haunted Henricus’ and many others offered by our experienced staff make learning about history fun.”

And how appropriate it is that the site founded by Sir Thomas Dale in 1611 accommodates the high school named after him. Thomas Dale’s performance of Dark of the Moon will set the mood for the evening, finishing just before Haunted Henricus begins. The play features young actors, sophomores from the Specialty Center program, who director Becki Jones says, “are young people tackling something very difficult.” In its depiction of a witchboy yearning to become human so his love for a young girl doesn’t go in vain, Dark of the Moon is thought-provoking, advocating tolerance of diversity since many in the fictional community oppose the marriage because they are different, says Jones. “It is spooky,” she adds and feels it is a great warm-up act for Haunted Henricus.

The cost of admission for Haunted Henricus is $8 for adults and $6 for children aged 5-12. With proceeds benefitting the school, the fee for the play is $3. Those interested in attending Haunted Henricus are required to register by Oct. 20 by calling 748-1613.

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