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Haunted Haight Walking Tour
by Hauntmaster 09-10-2005
Time flies when you're having fun, or so it would seem from our recent night-time tour of the spookier side of the Haight on the Haunted Haight Walking Tour.
Tommy Netzband, creator and guide of the Haunted Haight Walking Tour
Tommy in front of the "Dark" witch's former magic shop
One of the numerous haunted houses you'll learn about on the tour
Onetime home of the infamous Jim Jones
Led by Tommy Netzband, decade long resident of the Haight, registered tour guide, and self-described ghost historian, the two-hour tour began at 7 pm sharp in front of Planetweavers Treasure Store in the upper Haight. A store that many of us have been in dozens of times but never realized had a haunted side.
Tommy quickly checked to make sure all his guests were accounted for and began the tour by handing each of us a small gift bag, which included numerous small toys, ghostly candies, a short companion guide and map to the tour, and a Haunted Haight flashlight, which was both fun and useful.
Our tour group was large, 18 people, in comparison to the tour's usual group size of a half dozen. However, it was no less personalized than Tommy's usual tours. Tommy goes to great effort to make sure everyone has a good time on his tour, tailoring his presentation and stops to the age range and interest of the group. He even carries several Haunted Haight blankets for tourists who may not fully understand San Francisco's wonderful summer fogs.
Along the way we visited a dozen spots in the Haight with spooky and/or historical importance including many private homes with documented hauntings as well as the homes of Robert Cranston (who designed many of the best Victorian homes in the area), Jim Jones, and Charles Manson. We also visited a store cursed by its former witch tenant where all future businesses are doomed to fail and the location where local punk rock legend Buck Naked (Phillip Bury) was murdered in 1992 by pigeon obsessed maniac Michael Kagan. Tommy also relayed some of the numerous haunting tales from Golden Gate Park including those of a phantom policeman and the Lady of Stow Lake.
Between stops Tommy gave us a very well rounded history of the Haight from its beginnings as sand dunes and burial grounds through its glory days as a recreation area for the wealthy and important, to its decline in the 1970's, and eventual rebirth.
Two hours may seem like a long time to be walking around San Francisco but you won't feel like you're on a hike. The tour is carefully routed to avoid difficult hills and non-accessible curbs; it is suitable for children, strollers, and wheelchairs. Several stops have benches and there is also a break half-way through the tour at a coffee shop where you can warm up, sit down, or use the bathroom. Some of us on the tour were not in particularly great shape, cough me cough, but we all thought it was particularly easy, well paced, and the thought of breathing hard, breaking a sweat, or sore feet never entered our mind. In the end it was hard to believe two hours had passed as we were well entertained the whole time.
The Haunted Haight Walking Tour has become very popular in the year since Tommy began the tour. October and especially the Halloween weekend are his busiest times. If you'd like to attend the tour but want a smaller group size the time to go is now or wait till after the Halloween season. However, during the Halloween weekend Tommy has some extra special treats in store for his guests. In addition to the small gift bags he normally gives his guests he will be conducting raffles and trivia challenges where he will give away a Ouija board every night, T-shirts, and other cool prizes.
On October 9th you can also listen to Tommy as a guest on GhostlyTalk.com where he will be talking both about his tour and the Haight's haunted history.
The Haunted Haight Walking Tour operates Friday through Monday, 7 pm to 9 pm. Tickets are $20 per person and reservations are required. Group discounts are available. Visit the Haunted Haight Walking Tour website for more details.
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