I was supposed to be at the Point San Luis Lighthouse parking lot by 1:45 p.m. The lighthouse’s executive director, Kristi Balzer, warned me that if I was late, the trolley would leave without me. And it was going to leave at 2 p.m., sharp.
Next time I schedule something like this, I need to make sure I’m not coaching a soccer game that starts at noon by Lopez Lake in Arroyo Grande. I left the field at 1:20 p.m. I know it sounds like I had plenty of time, but it took 10 minutes just to get to U.S. Highway 101.
When I pulled off of the Avila Beach exit, I immediately hit traffic. The slow, abrupt movements of Avila Valley Barn pumpkin-pickers looking for parking blocked forward motion.
I made it to the front gate at 1:54 p.m. Whew. Close, but that’s my life sometimes—a series of events scheduled too close for relaxation.
A sumo wrestler whose costume rippled in the breeze worked the electric gate that guarded a dirt parking lot where the Point San Luis Lighthouse trolley waited.
I’d never been to the lighthouse before and I was excited. It would be a double whammy—a tour of the buildings complete with haunting.
Spider cookies, orange frosting-topped mini cupcakes, and apple cider greeted tour-ready citizens like myself, who snagged a treat before boarding the spider-web-covered trolley. The drive up and over the hill to the lighthouse was, for a person prone to motion sickness like me, a bit nauseating. But it probably didn’t help that I was craning my neck out the window to take in the awesome view of the coastline.
It was sunny when we left the parking lot, but in true Central Coast style, the fog was hanging out above the lighthouse buildings when we got to the other end of Lighthouse Road. It was a perfect setting for a haunting.
As we walked up the path to the recently restored buildings—the lighthouse has been there since 1890—a zombie tackled a high school kid in our group and ate him. Our guide, the grim reaper also known as docent Dave Humphreys, explained to us the history of the buildings we were about to enter while the kid-eating zombie wormed around in the dirt, grabbing legs, and moaning loudly.
That was a precursor for the rest of the tour.
The windows of the house once inhabited by lighthouse keepers were covered, and the inside of the house was pitch black. We could hear screams and yelling to go along with the creepy music that hit us as we entered the dwelling through flapping black plastic.
Skeletons were set up in every hallway so the little bit of light that did stream through hit them just so. I’m not a real big freaky Friday person who loves to be scared or gives in easily to the whims of a haunted house, but by the last couple of rooms on the tour, even I was peeking around corners before I took my first steps out a doorway.
Every time we entered a room, someone would shut the door behind us, and as our eyes adjusted, one of the dressed-up ghouls would begin speaking, screaming, or whispering. Every time we exited a room, something would jump out from the shadows and tell us not to go any farther.
The three elementary-school-aged children who clambered through the house as my tour-mates remained calm, but I can’t say the same for their mothers, whose reactive screams gave me goose bumps.
The experience came complete with a murdering psychopath in the basement, a liver-offering woman in the kitchen, a jagged-toothed clown in the bedroom, and the Central Coast Paranormal Investigators showcasing video proof that the lighthouse is haunted.
It was spooky, historical, and a wonderful way to spend a foggy afternoon getting in the Halloween spirit.
Executive Director Balzer later explained that many of the characters on the haunted tour were high school students from Ernest Righetti High School. The Central Coast Paranormal team planned and produced the event.
Balzer said it’s the third year the lighthouse has been host to haunted tours. She said throughout the year, the lighthouse is host to many events, and all of them put money directly back into restoration work and upkeep for the buildings.
Before I left, I asked Balzer if she thought the lighthouse was haunted.
“I think there’s no one who’s gone in there at night and not felt a presence,” Balzer said.
At one point in the past, a little girl died from polio in the lighthouse. Balzer said the girl’s nickname is “Polio Polly.” She also mentioned the Brohards, who inhabited the lighthouse during the ’20s and ’30s. They had two daughters, one of whom was named Lucy.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if Lucy’s spirit is here every once in a while. She had a strong connection to this place,” Balzer said.
For more information about the lighthouse or to find out about lighthouse events visit the website, sanluislighthouse.org.
Contact Staff Writer Camillia Lanham at [email protected].
A DAYTIME HAUNTING The Point San Luis Lighthouse celebrated Halloween early with haunted tours that featured a creepily staged lighthouse, zombies, ghouls, clowns, and skeletons on Oct. 26.
PHOTOS BY CAMILLIA LANHAM