Historic hangings, electrocutions fill Ghost Walk

New stories and old tales told in new ways will be a part of Ghost Walk when it returns to Warren over the next two weekends.

Even though the event started more than 30 years ago, Barbara Root said she and others are able to uncover new dark and untold tales from Trumbull County’s past. Unlike many Halloween traditions, the emphasis is more on history than horror.

“I hate to hear, ‘I’ve done Ghost Walk before. It’s the same thing every year, isn’t it?,'” Root said. “We try for it not to be.”

This year’s walk includes a story written and performed by Don Novorsky about a Warren doctor who patented a new technique for embalming in the 19th century.

There’s also the tale of Newton Falls gangster Tony Rotunno, who killed a cop and was sentenced to the electric chair.

“The poor guy went to be executed and it didn’t take the first time,” Root said. “They had to flip the switch three times.”

Root also reworks past stories so audiences don’t get the same experience every year. The story of Ira Gardner, who was sentenced to a public hanging in the 1830s, now is told both from the perspective of the young girl he murdered and by two gossiping women who were among the spectators

“Twelve thousand came to watch this,” Root said. “People were hawking food and souvenirs. It was a big event … I try to put it in a way that people related to. I try to humanize them as much as possible so people can feel that they know them.”

Ghost Walk starts at First Presbyterian Church downtown and uses many of the historic landmarks on and near Mahoning Avenue NW as the backdrops for the stories. Participants hear eight tales on the mile-long walk, which takes just over an hour.