Santa Paula Times

"Even I’m amazed that I’ve told a ghost story nearly fifteen hundred times since GhostWalk began,” chimes Louie Hengehold (above), a legendary storyteller for this year’s Santa Paula Theater Center annual Halloween fundraiser.

GhostWalk 2009 runs three weekends in October

October 09, 2009
Santa Paula News
By Dee Helsel “Even I’m amazed that I’ve told a ghost story nearly fifteen hundred times since GhostWalk began,” chimes Louie Hengehold, a legendary storyteller for this year’s Santa Paula Theater Center’s annual Halloween fundraiser. For three weekends in October a whole crew of local volunteers present unique street theater, and when all is said and done, the “ghost” actors repeat their performances nearly a hundred times a season.“You never get bored,” Hengehold explains, “because it’s live theater and every audience is different. Around the middle of the run you really have to concentrate though, because you’ve done it so often that your mind will want to wander.”The event has become a fall tradition, is well supported, and many locals have no doubt heard many of Louie’s yarns. A native of Santa Paula, Louie works as a geologist.GhostWalk events have popped up in many places over the years, but the Santa Paula Theater Center’s GhostWalk is the original one, celebrating its fifteenth anniversary at the Teague/McKevett ranch on the east end of Santa Paula.“What keeps me stoked about doing it is that each year it’s at a different location,” notes Louie. “We have a bunch of writers that do new scripts every year, so I’m always learning something.” Louie is a bit of a history buff, and the stories are often based on actual historical events or people from the Santa Paula area.“As a kid I hung out with my family at The Mill. A group of old retired guys - cowboys, ranchers, hunters, cattlemen, you know, outdoorsmen - used to hang out by the potbelly stove and tell their tall tales. So storytelling is in my blood. My Dad was a great one for a good story. And I remember the day that Jeff Rack (artistic director) came into the Mill and asked me and my brother to be in the first GhostWalk. My brother said no, but I said yes. I’ve been a ‘ghost’ every\ since,” laughs Louie.Since Louie Hengehold is such a character in his own right, he usually pulls colorful stories that put him in the middle of a field, up a silo or at a campfire. “One of my favorite characters was ‘The Char Man,’ says Hengehold. “I tell that tale around fires when I go camping with kids and friends.”
Another favorite “ghost” was a WWI tale, a piece called “The Soldier.” It was a yarn of unrequited love, interrupted by death in the line of duty. “It was a sad one,” explains Louie, “ I saw tears in eyes of many folks that year.”With no plans to discontinue this very entertaining event for years to come, only his own demise would affect Louie’s track record for performing at GhostWalk. In excellent health, you can count on his appearance each year. “ Who knows, I’m such a fixture, when I go they’ll write a story about me, and I’ll get to hang out in the hereafter and haunt GhostWalk patrons for decades to come.”Of the unseen beware but walk with us if you dare…. GhostWalk 2009, the 15th Anniversary Tour this year is haunting Santa Paula’s ghostoric Teague-McKevett Ranch. You can visit the spirits on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, October 9-25 from 6:30 to 9 p.m.; guided tours leave every 15 minutes.Cost is $15 for adults ($10 during the first weekend only), and $8 for all students (7 and older) with school ID cards. No infants or strollers, please.For information, including directions and reservations, call the GhostWalk Haunt Line: 805 525-3073, or visit our website at Advance reservations are recommended. Flashlights are mandatory. GhostWalk is a benefit for the Santa Paula Theater Center.