Casket closes on Glenwood Springs’ annual Ghost Walk
Every October for the past 18 years, the Glenwood Springs Historical Society and Frontier Museum have hosted the Ghost Walk.
The fundraising event, which has helped fund the historical society and museum throughout the year and during the off-season, will not be back this year.
“It’s a hard thing to realize, that it’s over,” said Bill Kight, the executive director of Glenwood Springs Historical Society and Frontier Museum.
Typically sold out, the Ghost Walk took visitors on a tour of the historic Linwood Cemetery atop Jasper Mountain overlooking Glenwood Springs.
The cancellation of the event, which had been held the last three weekends in October, came down to a combination of things, Kight said.
Like many events, the walk is completely dependent on volunteers.
“Our volunteers are aging, it’s difficult to ask them to go and commit to three weekends in October,” Kight said. “To be out there whether it rains or snows, warm or cold, and stand there and deliver a performance …”
One show typically took 17-20 volunteers to make it happen. The task proved difficult many times, with volunteer illnesses and other commitments.
“We are in different times than when we started this 18 years ago,” Kight said. “Life is much more complicated, it is difficult for people to make the commitment.”
The Ghost Walk typically raised between $8,000 and $10,000 per year to support the museum and other historical society functions.
Kight said his organization has looked to obtain more funding from the city of Glenwood Springs, especially after a failed attempt last fall to pass a Garfield County-wide mill levy to fund historical groups from Carbondale to Parachute.
With Glenwood’s Acquisitions & Improvements tax money tied up in so many infrastructure projects, Kight said he decided against asking for additional help from the city.
The organization already receives $50,000 per year from that source of money, which city voters did agree to extend last year. But the funding contract is up for renewal this fall.
“It’s getting more and more difficult to be sustainable without help from the municipality or county governments,” Kight said. “Glenwood has a rich history, it’s what brings people to town. It shouldn’t be so hard to survive, but it is.”
Finally coming to grips with the cancellation of the Ghost Walk event, Kight is beginning to turn people away who want to make a reservation.
“We appreciate and thank the community support every year, we wish we could keep it going, but it’s not practical,” he said.
Kight is also trying to brainstorm ideas to raise money to replace the money that the walk usually brought in.
“We still want to do downtown tours, not abandoning portraying characters in town,” he said.
The historical society and museum is hoping to work with businesses and hotels to create tour packages for visiting tourists that involve individual ghost stories that have ties to buildings or businesses.
The loss of the money generated from the walk will hurt the historical society, but the organization is planning a silent auction during the Hotel Colorado and Yampah Spa & Vapor Caves’ combined 125th anniversary celebration Sept. 15. The auction will include many duplicate assets in the museum collection.
“We just have to think of a creative way to stay afloat,” Kight said.
The historical society and museum are also continuing to look for volunteers to help at the museum.
Kight is the only full-time employee, with two part-time employees. Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Bill Kight at the Glenwood Springs Historical Society at 970-945-4448.