History, hauntings and Harry Potter: A spooktacular Second Saturday

October’s Second Saturday features Civil War re-enactments, the first-ever Harry Potter Festival and the annual Main Street Ghost Tour

According to event coordinator Lisa Rysinger, Mullica Hill’s annual Ghost Walk welcomes, on average, 600 to 800 people from across the country each year, eager to hear the spooky tales of Main Street’s historical hauntings. Paired with the township’s first-ever Harry Potter Festival and returning 48th annual Civil War Living History Weekend on Oct. 14 and 15, Second Saturday will offer something for everyone this Halloween season.

Throughout the weekend of Second Saturday, Oct. 14 and 15, Civil War soldiers will roam the Main Street sidewalks alongside the community as they retell the history of the 1860s battle. From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, re-enactors and residents will assume the life of their ancestor who fought or lost their lives in the war, camping out on either side of Main Street to recount the narrative of the American war.

According to coordinator Hazel Dilsaver, each day will feature morning drills, a noon cannon fire at the confederate camp and a skirmish at 2 p.m., featuring live fighting between the two armies, as it would have appeared in the 19th century. At 1:30 p.m., children can line up behind the soldiers at the Union camp behind Sisters, 39 S. Main St., and march behind them as they prepare for battle. Alongside demonstrations, numerous historical displays will be on site, as well as a free lantern tour of both campsites followed by an evening of cannon fires at 7 p.m.

Simultaneously throughout the weekend, Mullica Hill will host its first Harry Potter Festival, with a number of local shops and businesses along Main Street transforming into the fantasy world of Hogwarts, Diagon Alley and more. Most shops along Main Street will be open until 9 p.m., with a number of arts and crafts, games and magical activities.

Shops participating in the Harry Potter festivities will be marked with scarecrows, Dilsaver said. Activities include, but are not limited to, wand making stations, butter beer, potions and elixirs, a visit with the sorting hat, face painting, scavenger hunts, costume contests, pumpkin painting and more. At Flossy’s, located at 36 S. Main St., the community will have the opportunity to take classes at Hogwarts, complete with report cards, taught by well-known characters from the Potter books and movies.

“Come out and support your town, your local business and the heritage of Mullica Hill,” Dilsaver said.

Harrison Township Historical Society’s guided 1.5-hour Ghost Walk through Mullica Hill’s historic Main Street on Saturday, Oct. 14, will feature approximately eight to 10 stops of local homes and businesses with a rich history of “stuff that goes bump in the night,” Rysinger said. Some of the stories, she said, date back to the early 1930s.

“It’s really interesting to hear how they’ve evolved over the years, and how things can be reinforced,” Rysinger said. “Sounds they heard in the 1970s, they begin hearing again.”

According to Rysinger, at least two of the stops on this year’s tour have fresh stories from their owners on experiences they’ve had in the buildings since last year’s tour. One is St Stephen’s Episcopal Church, a popular spot that must be on the tour’s list of stops each year. Another, she said, is one of the oldest houses in Mullica Hill, dating back to the 1600s.

Although Rysinger said she could not reveal the stories that haunt Main Street, she’s felt the hair stand on the back of her neck, felt her chest tighten and couldn’t quite catch her breath while visiting the numerous locations that harbor the unexplainable.

The tour will include a presentation by ghost-hunting group Jersey Unique Minds Paranormal Society, known as JUMPS, as well as a live broadcast of the paranormal radio show “Paradelphia.”

“It’s a great event to support the community and the historical society,” Rysinger said. “It’s a family-friendly event; people aren’t going to be popping out to scare you. It’s interesting to hear about the history of the town. It’s a nice way to pay tribute and think about what has happened in these streets and walk in the footsteps people walked in the 1700s and 1800s.”

Rysinger recommends participants wear comfortable shoes, as well as bring a flashlight and umbrella, weather permitting. Costumes are also welcome. The rain or shine event begins at 6:30 p.m., with tours of approximately 40 people departing every 10 minutes at Blueplate, 47 S. Main St. For tickets, $7 per person, visit www.harrisonhistorical.com, or stop by Blueplate or Naples Pizzeria, 2 S. Main St. All proceeds benefit the Harrison Township Historical Society.

For more information on Second Saturday’s events, visit www.harrisontwp.us.