By Noel Tillman
Big events come and go in Beaufort. They leave us with a sense of pride in what a small town on the sea can do when it works as a community. We have a few photos, we have a few memories, and we have a few stories to tell our out-of-town guests when they come visit.
Most event organizers process their undertakings and volunteer efforts, they address what they did well, and what they need to work on. Sometimes we hear about those after-action summaries, sometimes not.
Recently, some of the volunteers met at the Technical College of the Lowcountry to celebrate and do a little “processing” of the CAPA Ghost Tours program for 2014. Here are some of the stats and numbers they discovered.
• Child Abuse Prevention Association (CAPA) and Exchange Club staff, along with other volunteers, played host to about 30 of the 250 folks who made this year’s event a wonderful success. Yes, It took 250 volunteers to run the event for nine nights, many putting in 50 plus hours during the month of October.
• Can we literally say that the tours have drawn thousands to the city of Beaufort every October? Yes! More than 2,400 guests went on tour this year, and that exceeded past the high in years past by more than 200 ticket purchases.
• CAPA and the Beaufort Exchange Club have made this event a tradition in Beaufort and the town has become a destination site in mid-October because of it. What establishes a “tradition” in a little town like Beaufort? How about 22 years of operation. That puts its start in 1992.
• What roles did the 250 volunteers play? They dressed as ghosts or visions, acted as safety patrollers (on foot, in cars, on bikes), organizers, planners, ticket sellers and more.
• Thirteen “visions” appeared in parks, on side streets, near bridges, and from behind trees. Many of the volunteers have been doing it for a dozen years or so. Local residents make them feel welcome by offering a place to sit on a porch, a refreshment, and some conversation during the three to four hour shifts at the various locales.
One vision shared this: “Some nights are hot and the makeup streaks or your wig seems to attract gnats. Some are cold and lonely (no neighborly porch sitters on those cold nights).”
What is the one thing all the volunteers have in common? A love of children, a desire to see no child abandoned, abused, or neglected. The CAPA shelter currently is providing a home for 13 children, ages 4-17. That changes day to day, and it is usually upwards of that number. Often those children are being brought to the shelter in the middle of the night due to domestic disputes in their homes. The funds raised will directly benefit those kids. The money will also help fund outreach programs that address parenting skills, teen pregnancy, crib safety, and more. That compassion, more than anything, is the legacy of the Ghost Tours.
Beaufort is a town that cares.
Compassionate Beaufort Communities (CBC-SC.org) collects and shares stories of kindness by the many non-profit, charities, churches, and individuals that make a difference in our Beaufort area.