Hector’s Haunted Happenings
Mystery dinner, ghost walk
kick off Halloween
in Jennings County
Proceeds from events
to benefit the historical society
VERNON, Ind. (October 2013) – The Halloween season brings cooler weather, longer evenings and a sudden spike in candy sales. In Vernon, Ind., the autumn holiday takes off with Hector’s Haunted Happenings, an annual mystery dinner and ghost walk.
• For more information, call (812) 346-8989.
“Every year has something different,” said Pat Rice of the Jennings County Historical Society, 134 E. Brown St., in Vernon. “People expect a good time, and we have fun getting it ready for them.” Rice organizes the mystery dinner, a popular Halloween season event in Jennings County.
Named for the little boy who allegedly haunts the Jennings County Historical Society Museum, Hector’s Haunted Happenings will welcome guests with an affinity for spookiness on Oct. 11-12.
Guests may attend the two events together or separately. The mystery dinner will take place at the North American House with seating at 6 p.m. Friday and 5 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. Saturday. Reservations are limited, and tickets must be purchased in advance by calling (812) 346-8989. The ghost walk will include multiple tours departing from the Historical Society Museum between 6:30-9:30 p.m. and ending at the North American House. Mystery dinner tickets are $15 or $16 for the combined dinner and ghost walk. Ghost walk tickets are $3 for ages 11 to adult, $2 for ages 4-10, and free for ages 4 and under.
Proceeds from Hector’s Haunted Happenings benefit the Historical Society’s efforts to maintain the Historical Society Museum, the North American House, and the Victorian Railroad Office. Plenty of Jennings County residents are eager to make a contribution in exchange for thrilling entertainment. “People stop me on the street in summertime,” said Rice, “and ask, ‘When can I get my tickets?’ ”
The mystery dinner draws locals and visitors from out of town back to the North American House every October. This year’s theme and the dinner menu are closely guarded secrets. “If anyone blabs, we find a hitman,” said Rice, laughing.
Rice has been involved with the Historical Society since 1975. In addition to planning the mystery dinner, she will also cook and serve at the event with her family members and others. The dinner does not make use of performance or audience participation, but Rice is confident that guests will be entertained by the dinner’s ambience.
For more entertainment, guests can attend the ghost tour organized by Janet Tempest of Vernon. The Jennings County ghost walk, in its 14th year, is one of the oldest ghost walks in Indiana. Tempest will lead some of the tours, which she said is not like a haunted house but an interactive storytelling experience.
“It’s something the whole family can do for Halloween,” Tempest said. “No one will be jumping out to grab you. Even small kids who aren’t sure at first always have a great time by the end.”
The ghost walk features local folklore and regional legends surrounding the Jennings County area. Seven stories will be performed by students from the Jennings County high school and, for the first time this year, the middle school. The local students write scripts, direct lighting and sound effects, and act out stories in open-air venues between the Historical Society Museum and the North American House.
The ghost walk provides young thespians with an opportunity to be creative and perform, but Tempest noted that all participants are welcome to dress in costume, regardless of “haunted history” theme. Tempest plans to dress as a pirate.
Rice expressed gratitude for the many sponsors supporting Hector’s Haunted Happening Mystery Dinner and Ghost Walk. They include Anita Reed and Edward Jones Investments, Sawyer-Pickett Funeral and Cremation Services, and the Dove-Sharpe and Funeral Home.
Rice jokes that when you don’t know what you’re going to have for dinner, “you have funeral services if you need them.”
Tempest, who maintains less secrecy around the ghost walk, said the popularity of Hector’s Haunted Happenings grows every year. Although the ghost walk is only offered on two nights, it is not uncommon for more than 100 people to attend. She particularly enjoys it when adults who once joined the ghost walk as children return to listen to the spooky stories with friends and family.
“Ever since we started, we’ve sold out,” she said. “Everybody loves it.”
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