The Columbia’s Haunted Lantern Tour is a theatre in the street that explores the history and haunting lore of our quaint river town.
It is a non-profit, community-based group with more than 50 volunteers. Proceeds from the tour will benefit different areas of the community, such as small businesses and art groups. Our goal is to educate and entertain by bringing Columbia, Pennsylvania’s unique and powerful history to life.
We guide guests through an hour-long tour to meet enticing new characters while traveling the path of those who lived before us. Guests are invited to walk along darkened town sidewalks and through historic buildings, where they are greeted by “ghosts from the past.” We have about 20 actors at a time, dressed in period costumes, who portray historical figures and ghastly spirits.
This Year’s Theme
2021 – Unfortunate Events
This year’s theme, Unfortunate Events, traverses downtown Columbia to invoke the spirits left behind by the tragedies that fell upon the town throughout history. Learn of the fatal catastrophes that affected Columbia throughout history. Venues on the tour this year include the newly-renovated Columbia Market House and original underground jail cells; Art Printing Company, home of the historic Miller Mansion; and the old Becker’s Chip Factory. Also featured on our tour this year is the nostalgic Rivertowne Trolley. This hour-long walking tour is the perfect balance of historical narrative and entertainment!
Themes of the Past
2020 – Authentic Illusions
Authentic Illusions traversed downtown Columbia, exploring the borough’s history of bewitching tales, superstitions, and haunting lore. The foundation of Columbia was built on the legends passed down by our ancestors, and it is their memoirs that teach us the history that lies beneath every brick this town was built with. We stepped back into the ominous veil to converse with the spirits of the other worlds to obtain the secrets they hold. The darkened brick pavements and hollowed alleys altered reality as guests were approached by relics from the past and allowed themselves to be immersed in the history of our ancestors to reveal the authenticity within the haunting illusions.
2019 – Urban Spirits
Urban Spirits brought a lively aura to our traditionally ominous tour and showcased the stimulating night life of Columbia Borough from the early 1800’s up until the 1930’s. Our characters had a wide range of personalities and covered a variety of topics including celebration, crime, adultery, evasion, and bootlegging. Urban Spirits does not just reference the culture of a small town known for having its fair share of ghost stories. It also hints toward the energizing essence of Columbia during the Roaring Twenties, and of course, the spirited liquor that inspired it. While stepping away from our typical spine-chilling themes of the past, we felt the Urban Spirits motif shadowed an essential part of Columbia’s history while adding an exciting and provocative twist!
2018 – Mortality Within
Mortality Within explored the disease and famine that made a large impact on our small town in the early 19th century, when settlers had only the most basic understanding of disease. The spread of lethal epidemics and contagion drastically effected the population. Thousands of lives could be swept away in a matter of months, and children of this generation were taught to fear death. Those who had been lucky enough to live to adulthood gained a newfangled interest in medical advances. During the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, advances in medicine peaked drastically, making a small bland town the center of scientific breakthroughs. Pest houses were replaced with hospitals, the population flourished, and our once paltry town became the beloved historical community that we cherish today.
2017 – Spirits Rising
Spirits Rising was carefully selected to depict the comeback of Columbia’s Haunted Lantern Tour. We started with a few simple ideas on paper, and after months of collaboration, productivity and endless dedication, we were thrilled to present a performance like those that we had admired and cherished for years. Spirits Rising opened with a séance hosted by madam Viara, causing the lost souls of beloved characters from prior years to rise and return to tell their tale once again. Spirits Rising was an opportunity to bring this show “back from the dead”, to a time when long skirts whispered on the brick pavements and children’s laughter and the scent of horses filled the air. A time where life moved at a slower pace.
On Sunday, October 18, 2020, reporter Jeremy Jenkins interviewed Rebecca Wright about this year’s Haunted Lantern Tour. The interview aired over local NBC affiliate, WGAL, Channel 8. Take a look!
On Wednesday, October 23, 2019, reporter Corinne Lillis interviewed Sara Mimnall and Rebecca Wright at the Moose Lodge, Art Printing Company, and City Gate Church. Sara and Rebecca discussed the Haunted Lantern Tour. The interview aired the next day, Thursday, October 24, during the “Community Connections” segment on the daily afternoon news program, News at 4, broadcast over local NBC affiliate, WGAL, Channel 8. Take a look!
On Thursday, October 18, 2018, Sara Mimnall and Rebecca Wright appeared as guests on the daily morning program, Good Day PA!, broadcast over local ABC affiliate WHTM, Channel 27. Take a look!