The group of ghost seekers gathered promptly at 7 p.m. via Zoom last Friday at Museum on Main for the launch of this year's annual Ghost Walk.
The popular guided downtown tour has been held for more than 13 years during Halloween season, but this time, due to social distancing, the format was adapted for an online presentation.
Museum director of education Sarah Schaefer and board member Rebecca Bruner, decked out in dress of yesteryear, sat at a candle-laden table surrounded by black walls with eerie lighting to present the Virtual Ghost Walk.
"We are live, broadcasting from Museum on Main, a historic and haunted building, built in 1914," Schaefer said.
The ghost hosts agreed strange things happen in the museum, usually having to do with lights, and they both avoid going alone to the building's basement.
The introduction included why Pleasanton attracts ghosts -- it was built over water, and some periods of its history have included a lot of chaos. They also discussed how research was done -- years of consulting psychics and paranormal investigators.
Downtown shop owners often come to the museum to report ghost activity while undergoing renovations to their buildings, Bruner noted.
"I don't think ghosts like renovations," Schaefer commented with a laugh.
Next the logistics for the evening were laid out: Four "ghosts" would speak from haunted spots downtown; there would be a five-minute intermission; then more ghost guests would appear. Questions could be submitted to be answered at the end.
The first ghost on the tour was founder John Kottinger (portrayed by actor David Ghilardi) at his adobe barn on Ray Street, built in 1852 and used for some years as the jail when Kottinger was justice of the peace. Psychics have said 22 ghosts remain at the location, including one prisoner who paces back and forth.
Other locations visited were the Train Station, Blue Agave, Pleasanton Hotel, Towne Center Books, Old Mortuary, Gay Nineties and the Rose Hotel, mostly presented by spirits in residence, portrayed by professional Bay Area actors. The Gay Nineties pizza parlor is known for so much spectral activity that two ghosts told their stories at that location.
As the eight downtown spots were visited, a map highlighted the route and each location, for the feeling that the group was truly tromping along Main Street.
After the tour, Bruner and Schaefer answered questions submitted by the 40 households in attendance. They also told of their experiences and made suggestions:
* There is no special time of year to look for ghosts, and they do not sleep so may be active at any time of day. When people pay attention to them, they are more active.
* If you feel ghostly activity, take a photo. Cameras often pick up things the naked eye may not see.
* Most interactions are not "sightings" but other types of communication.
The Virtual Ghost Walk was an effective way for Museum on Main to hold the fun and informative event this year and keep the downtown spirits alive, so to speak, for a different, eye-opening perspective on Main Street.
Virtual Ghost Walks continue this Friday, Saturday and Oct. 31 at $15 per screen, which includes a companion e-book with recipes for spooky snacks, Halloween-themed cocktails and fun trivia. Visit www.museumonmain.org to learn more.
The Museum on Main is hosting a "Virtual Paranormal Investigation Experience" at 7 p.m. Nov. 7 with Cara and George Schopplein, who have recently looked into five haunted locations downtown. The program will bring their findings and techniques to participants live on Zoom.
"This program is perfect for those who want to learn more about how to conduct paranormal investigations and who want to learn how we get some of our Ghost Walk ghost stories," museum education director Sarah Schaefer said.
Tickets are $10 per screen; go to www.museumonmain.org.