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Sykesville Ghosts and Legends tour returns with new spooky stories

Tales of haunting ghosts and paranormal activity around Sykesville will take center stage once again during this year's Ghosts and Legends Walking Tour.

The Ghosts and Legends tour has become one of the town's most popular events, selling out every year, according to Main Street Manager and Director of Economic Development Ivy Wells.

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The tour began in 2009, after Wells heard stories of paranormal activity at the Sykesville Town House, she said.

Town staff members would blame strange occurrences, like doors opening and closing on their own, floors creaking when no one was there, and scarier incidences on the ghost of Millard Cooper. Cooper - who lived from 1926-1980 - served as the town mechanic, maintenance and sanitation supervisor, and a policeman in Sykesville during his lifetime.

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The rumors of Cooper's ghost and other spooky tales swirling around the Town House piqued Wells' interest.

"I interviewed different town staff members, and then went out and talked to property and business owners," Wells said. "I discovered that there have always been kind of strange things happening all over town."

She gathered the stories together and turned them into a walking tour that is approximately an hour long.

The tour begins at the Town House and moves on to Baldwin's Station, the Inn at Norwood, the historic Sykesville Jail on Norwood Avenue, and other sights where residents have had bizarre experiences.

During the tour visitors don't only learn about ghost hauntings of the past and present, but also of the Sykesville Monster, a Bigfoot-like creature that was spotted around town in the 1970's.

Wells said the Ghosts and Legends tour is special because new additions are added each year.

There was an incident in the attic of the Town House this past winter, Wells said, that will be added to this year's tour and will be new to anyone who has been on the walking tour before.

Wells has personally experienced paranormal activity in the Town House attic, she said.

In 2009, two female police officers from Howard County, who do paranormal research during their free time, went on one of the first Ghosts and Legends tours, Wells said. They were so intrigued by the town's history of paranormal activity, that they asked to visit the Town House one night with Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) equipment, hoping to pick up on any paranormal activity.

"I didn't do the ghost tour the next year because of what happened in the attic that night - I was too freaked out," Wells said.

What happened in the attic that night is included in the tour.

Now Wells is back to hosting the ghost tour with the help of others, and she said she is excited for the tours to start in October, just in time for Halloween.

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This year the Town of Sykesville is teaming up with Howard County Tourism to offer a special two-night event featuring the Sykesville Ghosts and Legends Walking Tour and the Haunted History of Old Ellicott City Ghost Tour.

The joint tour, called Ghosts of the Patapsco Valley, will take place the first weekend in October, with the Sykesville tour beginning at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 5 and the Ellicott City tour beginning at 8:30 p.m. Oct. 6.

Wells worked with Ed Lilley, of Howard County Tourism, to bring the two tours together.

Lilley said the Ellicott City ghost tour, which lasts approximately one hour and 20 minutes, has been a very popular attraction for Howard County.

Since Sykesville and Ellicott City are both along the Patapsco River, and both have ghost tours, Lilley said he thought it would be a good idea to form a partnership.

"We think combining it and letting people save a little bit of money is going to be good, and it will be interesting for people who like ghost tours," Lilley said.

Like the Sykesville Ghosts and Legends tour, the Ellicott City tour doesn't only focus on ghost stories from the past, but on recent activity as well.

Tickets to the Ghosts of the Patapsco Valley joint tours can be purchased online at

http://www.tickets.visithowardcounty.com

, at a discounted price of $20 for both tours. The Ellicott City tour normally costs $13.

Tickets can be reserved in advance for the Sykesville Ghosts and Legends Walking Tour by emailing

ivy@skyesville.net

or calling 410-795-8959. This year the tour will take place at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 5 and 19, and 5:30 p.m. Nov. 2. Tickets reserved in advance cost $10 and walk-up tickets bought the day of the tour cost $15.

Wells said she expects the reserved tickets to sell out this year, as they have in the past.

"People kind of have a morbid sense of curiosity about ghosts, which is why I think they like the tour so much," she said. "Now is the perfect time for a ghost tour, with Halloween coming up - people really want to get scared."

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