by Bri Kilroy | photography by Caroline Cook
Your heart rate rises, you have to catch your breath and beads of sweat form on the back of your neck. Is it because you just finished a run, is it because you’re scared, or is it because you’re riveted with intrigue? If you’re part of an Unexplained & Unbelievable Running or Walking Tour, you can identify with all of the above.
Chief Tour Ambassador, Caroline Cook, designed three tours that introduce you to GR’s spookiest locations. Those looking to learn which historic buildings harness a disturbing past that makes its way into the present with various reports of paranormal activity can satisfy their curiosity with Grand Rapids Most Haunted tour (October 5 (walk) and October 10 (run), 7 p.m.).
History buffs can explore Grand Rapids’ first public graveyard and dive into the lives of those who were buried there over a century ago during the Fulton Street Graveyard tour (October 12 (walk) and October 17 (run), at 7 p.m.).
New to the line-up is the Saints & Spirits tour (October 20 (walk), 7 p.m. and October 24 (run), 7 p.m.), which ventures through the grounds of Aquinas College. Cook worked with a staff historian to ensure her facts were correct before sharing them with tour groups, discovering the real story behind the Roman Catholic college, haunted legends enveloped in onsite buildings and campus superstitions that run the rumor mill to this day.
Whether it’s a site with numerous murmurs of hauntings, an eerie graveyard home to our city’s first colonists or a college campus hosting historic buildings older than anyone alive today, the Unexplained & Unbelievable Running and Walking Tours give you more than a scenic jog through the city; they give you a fascinating education on Grand Rapids’ rich history and suggest the “living” aren’t the only ones present on these tours.
“The spooky part is when I’m telling a story and [someone in the group] says, ‘Yeah, that’s right,’” Cook said about the times a story she shares gets confirmed by a tour member who experienced the phenomenon.
Open discussion is a big part of Cook’s tours and the casual jaunts maintain her goal of attracting fun-seekers and providing community members with enjoyable, safe exercise. Those participating in Unexplained & Unbelievable Running and Walking Tours meet at the specified location at 7 p.m. then take off into the evening prepared to confront each claim with “is this legend or real?”. The question is an open invite to debate and debunk the stories that are as prominent in GR’s history as the age-old buildings that line the streets of downtown.
Are the prank calls that have hassled past Michigan Bell Telephone Company employees the work of former residents, the Randalls? What kinds of superstitions are absorbed into the grounds of Aquinas College? What separates Fulton Street Graveyard from the others? Where is Haunted Hotel Row? Spend the month answering and expanding on those questions by signing up for the Unexplained & Unbelievable Running and Walking Tours at Grandrapidsrunningtours.com. Both running and walking tours are available at $15 per person and include Cook as your tour guide and access to her wealth of Grand Rapids knowledge. For questions or custom tour options, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don’t be afraid to believe the chilling tales, Grand Rapids. They might even make you run faster.
What: Unexplained & Unbelievable Running Tours
Grand Rapids’ Most Haunted, October 5. Meet in the lobby of JW Marriott at 7 p.m.
Fulton Street Graveyard, October 12. Meet at the entrance to the Fulton Street Cemetery at 7 p.m.
Saints & Spirits, October 20. Meet at Fulton Street entrance of Aquinas College at 7 p.m.
Grand Rapids’ Most Haunted, October 10. Meet in the lobby of JW Marriott at 7 p.m.
Fulton Street Graveyard, October 17. Meet in the lobby of the JW Marriott at 7 p.m.
Saints & Spirits, October 24. Meet at Fulton Street entrance of Aquinas College at 7 p.m.
Cost: $15 per person. Sign up at Grandrapidsrunningtours.com.