GHOST TOURS ADD DEATHLY CHILL TO STROLL


Tour guide Bill Normyle tells a group about the Dublin House’s infamous Mrs. Patterson, a ghost known for locking doors to make her presence known. (Photo by Stacie Fanelli. Click to enlarge.)

By STACIE FANELLI

Red Bank sees businesses change hands often. Ghosts don’t like change.

At least that’s what Jersey Shore Ghost Tours guide Bill Normyle says when his group stops in front of the vacant storefront on Monmouth Street most recently home to Stokaboka.

It’s also a former borough hall, and Normyle suggests it is filled with the spirits of “a lot of disgruntled people who felt they had a lot of unfinished business — politicians and taxpayers alike.”

Long-forgotten general store murders, Indian burial grounds, shipwrecks and disturbances of ghosts’ homes during construction all lend themselves to eerie tales and speculations on the tour.

The bulk of this hour-long walk-around is dedicated to the rich history of Red Bank, with many stories about spirits left over from the Battles of Monmouth. It begins in front of the Dublin House and makes nearly a dozen downtown stops: outside the Count Basie Theatre; at Monmouth Street’s “Handing Down Old Glory” war memorial; on West Front Street across from Riverside Gardens Park; and in front of unsuspecting death scenes through the years, such as the present site of the Tobacco Paradise store, also on West Front, and an alley on Broad Street.

Normyle takes breaks from the spooky accounts to drop names of local celebrities and their connections to the area, such as Kevin Smith and his Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash comic book store.

The tours attract out-of-towners and locals alike throughout the season, which starts in August and continues through Halloween.

“There’s no right time to have a ghost tour,” said tour owner Tabitha Bradley. “Ghosts don’t go away after the fall. But it’s the spirit of the season.”

Still, skeptics are rampant. Along the way, several sneak up behind group members to shout, “Boo! I’m a ghost.”