After finally visiting Ghost Walk Riverside for Halloween 2015, Hollywood Gothique never got around to posting a review - the Ghost Walk is one of those events that runs for only a couple days each October, so our opinion would have been wasted on a readership that had no opportunity to act upon it last year. Fortunately, it's a whole new Halloween season, and Ghost Walk Riverside is open tonight and tomorrow, making it an ideal stop on our recommended Riverside Halloween Itinerary.
Presented by the California Riverside Ballet, Ghost Walk Riverside is a community-oriented outdoor festival that feels like a giant block party situated in the middle of the downtown area. There is free entertainment on stage, a costume contests (for ages under 10), souvenir stands, dancers synching to "Thriller," games and activities for kids, and a plethora of food options (including vendors and lots of local restaurants in easy walking distance - if you can get to them before closing time).
The centerpiece of the event is the "Ghost Walk" itself - a series of five "tours" to prominent buildings in the area, where local high school actors stage mini-plays with creepy stories. The tours come in three flavors: G, PG, and PG-13. A guide leads your group to the locations, telling Halloween-themed jokes on the way. At each stop (morgue, courtroom, etc), the audience stands (there is no seating) and watches events unfold - sometimes at a safe distance, sometimes...not so safe.
Last year, we experienced Blood Springs Road, one of the PG-13 tours and had a very good time with it. These are essentially amateur productions, put on for the fun of it, but the execution is clever. The young actors are generally cast in appropriate roles (high school kids relating a local legend or playing a scary game that inadvertently opens a portal to hell). The one play we saw with "older" characters was deliberately tongue in cheek, including a Rod Serling-type narrator to set the scene for a tale about victims of a haunted mirror (cleverly realized in the live setting by having the "ghost" stand behind an empty mirror frame - an illusion that worked quite well in the dim lighting).
We generally found the plays more amusing than thrilling. Unexpectedly, most of the scares took place after the plays, when the ghosts and ghouls refused evaporate but instead pursued us to the next location, relentlessly harassing the easy targets in our group.
This year's tour options are:
- Things That Go Bump in the Night – G
- Run for Your Lives – PG-13
- Nightmare on Main Street – PG – 13
- Fear – PG
- Riverside’s Reckoning – PG-13
Depending on how much you want to walk, and how much time you want to spend, you could possibly squeeze in four of the five tours, but three is more feasible, and also leaves time to enjoy the other activities. Also keep in mind that, although the nightclubs stay open late in downtown Riverside, the restaurants close at 9pm, so if you want a sit-down meal, do it before then.
This year's Ghost Walk Riverside takes place on October 28 and 29 at the Main Street Pedestrian Mall, at the corner of Main Street and 10th Street, in Riverside, CA 92501. Tours depart from 6pm to 10pm, regardless of the weather. Tickets are $15; some tours sell, out so advance purchase is a good idea (advance sales end this afternoon, so hurry). Get more info at www.crballet.com or California Riverside Ballet on Facebook.