Take a ghost tour this Halloween in DC — without leaving home

October 22, 2020

Courtesy DC Ghosts

They made a promise to a haunted doll: Halloween would go on, despite the coronavirus pandemic. And DC Ghosts is putting its technology where its collective mouth is, so to speak.

They’ve launched Ghostflix, which is a live, virtual ghost tour through more than 20 cities across the U.S., including Washington, of course.

Ghost Tours project manager and guide Josef Kruger said that with so much uncertainty surrounding Halloween activities and staying safe, they wanted to come up with something new.

“So we created Ghostflix, which is our live, virtual, streaming ghost tours, on location with our awesome guides who are out there every night, scaring people and sharing these awesome ghost stories on location.”

The area around the White House and Lafayette Park are key spots for spooks, even with restrictions resulting from protests and coronavirus.

“We’ve made a really huge effort to still go to a lot of cool locations,” Kruger said.

One of the scariest things he has seen was right on the White House lawn at night.

“It looked like people, and I’m not making this up, but it looked like people who were wearing [colonial-era] uniforms,” Kruger said.

After a few seconds, they disappeared into the darkness, he said.

“I thought, ‘All right, if I say this, is anyone really going to believe me?'” Kruger said. “But as I was watching, guests started yelling out, and pointed it out, saying, ‘Is there someone walking there?'”

“So I don’t know if they were wearing uniforms. I don’t know if they were Secret Service. But all I know is that I’ve never seen anything at that time, at that part of the night, at the White House.”

As for the haunted doll DC Ghosts made its Halloween promise to, that’s Lily.

The doll was allegedly crafted to mimic the infamous murderess Elizabeth Bathory from the 1600s. Bathory’s victim count may be as high as 650.

According to DC Ghosts, the Lily doll, from Florida, was given to a paranormal research group in the hopes of getting answers.

The owner said: “I found her outside my door one morning, with a note that said to not put her by mirrors or in the same room I sleep in. I gave her a flashlight so she could drain the batteries, but instead she made my lights flicker at night. My cat would not go near her, and my dog would just stare. At times I would be woken up from a dead sleep smelling burnt toast, or sometimes a sweet fruity smell. Her favorite color is red. That is all I know.”

Now, Lily lives with DC Ghosts — and she might be up to some mischief.

“As soon as she entered the office … weird things started happening,” Kruger said. “We have cameras in the office for security. So you could check the cameras and you would see sudden movements, like the wind was blowing through the office, the lights would kind of flicker. There was always a smell of burnt toast a lot of the time when people would say when they walked into the office, and of course, people thought it was funny, and they would play pranks on each other, you know, in the office, but they begin to realize, OK, is this a prank? Or is this actually Lily?”

Of course, it gets weirder.

“One of my co-workers, right after I trained her on her first day, I went to do a phone interview, and she walked outside to her car. And in the middle of my phone interview, I got a call from her and I had to hit decline,” Kruger said.

“She came upstairs when she was done. She said, ‘Yeah, what do you need?’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ She said, ‘Well, you were knocking on the window waving at me holding the Lily doll. And I thought you wanted me to come back in.’ And I said, ‘No, that really never happened.'”

“I thought she was messing with me,” Kruger said. “So you know, I still don’t know to this day.”

DC Ghosts’ Josef Kruger and Lily during a video interview with WTOP. Click to enlarge. (WTOP/Will Vitka)

Lily is also known to appear randomly and mess with electronics — including a strange disconnect during Kruger and Lily’s interview.

And, as readers will see in the video, Lily seems to move on her own in the chair to keep an eye on me during the interview.

DC Ghosts has taken steps to protect themselves from her influence, which includes wrapping her in foil, putting her in a box, then putting that box in another box, which goes inside a backpack, which gets covered by a blanket.

“The only reason she’s allowed to come out right now is because it’s October, because I swear she’s the one who actually runs this office, not us,” Kruger said.

It’s not all scary news. Lily can also help ward off worse spirits, according to legend, and those who want a Lily of their own can order a replica online.

Think of her as a sort of “Elf on a Shelf,” except maybe evil.

Kruger has a warning, though: “Basically, during October, she can help you out. Outside of October, not a good idea to have her in your house.”

There’s still one question remaining: Is D.C. and its many locations truly haunted?

“With that much history, and of course with politics, how can it not be scary and haunted?” Kruger said.

Check out the Ghostflix trailer below, and have a spooky (and safe) Halloween.

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Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Writer/Editor for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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