HALLOWELL — Carrying a lantern and a basket and clad in an ankle-length red cloak, Kelly Henderson looked like an anachronism as SUVs, sleek-clad bicyclists and trailer-towing pickups passed by on Water Street in front of the blue water of the Kennebec River.

Henderson led a small group of people on a walking tour downtown. The assembly drew curious looks from motorists and pedestrians.

Wednesday evening’s walking tour highlighting the history and mystery of the city known as the “gem of the Kennebec” was one of those offered regularly by Red Cloak Haunted History Tours, which runs similar tours in destinations along the coast from Bath to Bar Harbor. Hallowell is the group’s farthest inland reach.

The original Lady in the Red Cloak, Sally Lobkowicz, and her husband Greg Latimer, started the business about nine years ago, and they began offering the Hallowell tours last year.

“We don’t consider ourselves paranormal experts; we are journalists covering the paranormal,” Latimer said, adding, “We certainly believe in anomalies.”

Stories of hauntings, Latimer said, appeal to the younger crowd; the older people seem to revel in the history.

On this tour, Latimer joined Henderson, who was debuting as a tour guide after years of being a regular customer.

Taking the tour were Michelle Mason Webber, of Farmingdale, and Lisa Hardman, of Alna.

Henderson moved slowly along the brick-and-granite sidewalks of Perley Lane, telling sometimes eerie and always anecdotal tales about various historic homes and the firehouse topped by the hose drying tower, where much of the white clapboard is scraped to gray.

“One of the neat things is smaller groups of people are able to engage in conversation and some tell their own stories,” Latimer said.

The tour route in any given location depends both on the layout of the community and the terrain.

The couple do their own research on an area before offering tours, and Latimer said they get interesting reactions when Lobkowiz walks into buildings and asks occupants, “Got a ghost?”

Many tour-takers stay at bed-and-breakfasts, some of which are in buildings that are part of the tour, causing a few double-takes.

During the winter, when it’s simply too cold to take a walking tour, the couple head for warmer climes, looking for stories for their Mysterious Destinations Magazine. They tell stories of haunted lighthouses in Maine and sea serpents in San Francisco.

A number of locations in the United States and abroad offer haunted walking tours of historic areas and cemeteries, generally in the late evening and almost always by candle or lantern light.

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, for instance, offers more than a dozen ghost tours near Gettysburg National Military Park and the battlefield where more than 51,000 soldiers were killed or wounded in one of the most horrific battles of the Civil War. There, tour guides point out bullet holes in buildings and recite tales of soldiers miraculously saved by ghostly actions.

The tours draw those interested in anything that might be paranormal and the skeptics who view it as a lark.

A schedule of Red Cloak Haunted History Tours is available on its website at www.redcloakhistorytours.com

Tours of Hallowell generally are offered Wednesday and Friday evenings, but reservations must be made in advance. Tickets cost $15 for adults.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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