It’s getting scary downtown

So blend the turrets and shadows there
That all seem pendulous in air,
While from a proud tower in the town
Death looks gigantically down.

Some words from Edgar Allan Poe (“The City in the Sea”, 1845) warm us up for the tricks, treats, and other Halloween horrors planned on Main Street this year. 

First, 2009 brings the bicentennial anniversary of the birth of the Poe, America’s favorite hair-raising man of letters, and Virginia  is celebrating his legacy–especially around Halloween.    There are exhibits, stagings of plays based on Poe’s work, readings, and tours.  For more information, visit:

Poe statue on the Capitol grounds in Richmond
Poe statue on the Capitol grounds in Richmond

You don’t have to have Poe history to celebrate his spirit locally–especially on All Hallow’s Eve– and historic downtowns are a great place to give folks a fright.  Poe knew that people love to be scared. Here’s how downtowns are doing it.

Ghostly Tours: Harrisonburg and Abingdon offer ghost tours of their haunted streets, including local lore of a long departed Harrisonburg shop owner who still minds the store, and the gripping tales of Donnamarie Emmert, resident storyteller of Martha Washington Hotel and Spa in Abingdon. For a video look at the Abingdon tour, check out this YouTube posting. Lynchburg offers candlelit cemetery tours, if you have the nerve.

Trick or Treat. For the smaller celebrants, Marion invites the kids downtown for trick or treating, as does Staunton, where the little ones will find witches, contests, and more.  Winchester has Spooktacular, afternoon trick or treating with merchants, and Culpeper offers it in the early evening at the downtown shops, inlcuding the “Poe”etically named “Raven’s Nest” coffee house. 

Weak and wearie greetings of the season from the Virginia Main Street Staff.  Evermore.