By BRIAN SMITH
Angela Russell knows a few things about paranormal activity. You know, ghosts, orbs that can make a cell phone inoperable, things that go bump in the night.
As a young girl in Mineral Wells in 1982, she recalled the story of seeing a girl walking through a wall. She told her mother who said she must have been seeing things. Russell contends to this day that she wasn’t but says her love of all things ghostly has been sparked by that day.
She has been doing the Baker Hotel Ghost Walk in Mineral Wells since last September, having welcomed around 5,200 people from 17 states on the 10-block one way walk. Russell, a Mineral Wells native who works in Weatherford but lives in the Millsap area, says she got the idea for having a ghost walk after visiting the East Texas town of Jefferson.
“We always went to Jefferson for little getaways,” Russell said. “We were leaving town and saw they were having a ghost walk downtown and my teenagers (Ryan and Riley) said that was something I needed to do.”
Urged on by the family, without whom Russell says the walk would not be possible, she went and visited Mineral Wells City Manager Lance Howerton, who was very supportive of the idea. She began doing research back in June 2012. She has some other ties to the Baker Hotel as her uncle, who was a bellhop at the hotel, told her many stories about the Baker.
The Baker Hotel has long been known as having a “spooky” vibe, with phones inexplicably shutting off and coming back on when taking photos. An owl also has a roost at the Baker and enjoys flying around during the tour, adding to the spookiness.
Russell said since starting the ghost walk, she has not had a group smaller than 44 people, with her largest being close to 300.
“This time of year, I’ll get between 20 and 150 calls a day on the ghost walk,” Russell said. “It’s gotten so big that we even have two hotels there offering special guest rates for those taking part in the walk.”
She says she would love to get a ghost walk started in Weatherford, which also has talk of paranormal activity. She says three or four business owners on the downtown square have contacted her about strange goings on at their businesses.
Not all the talk in Mineral Wells has been positive about the walk.
“I’ve been asked why I’m trying to paint Mineral Wells as a ghost town,” Russell said. “I’m definitely not because there have been Indians and others saying the place has been haunted for years.”
Russell likes to think what she’s doing helps the local economy, putting “heads into beds.” She has also begun working with other groups, such as the Mineral Wells VFW and their haunted house.
Even though Halloween is over, Russell said at least three more public ghost walks are planned, including one on Saturday. Other walks are planned closer to Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Tickets are $15 for those ages 13 and older and $10 for ages 5 to 12. Russell insists nothing vulgar is seen on the Ghost Walk and the walk is family friendly for those who don’t mind a good scare. She tries to keep the walk fun, with prizes such as lottery tickets and candy being given away.
Russell said many people really get into the spirit of the walk, which takes just under two hours, depending on the level of “activity” that evening, coming in costume. For more information on the Ghost Walk times and exact dates, visit Baker Hotel Ghost Walk on Facebook or contact Russell directly at 817-629-8127.