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(Prior Story)   Arts/Theater ArTicle 3253   (Next Story) Goes on a State Theater Ghost Tour of Bay City

Have a Look at the Ghoulishly Clever Folks Scaring the Wits Out of Folks

November 5, 2008       Leave a Comment
By: Dave Rogers

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Ghost Tour guide Kathy Branigan jokes with actor Tommy Anderson, portraying magician Joe Sempliner, pulling gruesome rabbit out of a hat prior to State Theater Ghost Tour.
(MyBayCity Photo by Dave Rogers)

Eric Jylha of the Bay County Historical Museum gives Tommy Anderson last minute instructions as State Theater Ghost Tour is about to start.
(MyBayCity Photo by Dave Rogers)

Ginny Phillips collects tickets for State Theater Ghost Tour as patrons prepare to board Bay Metro trolley for tour.
(MyBayCity Photo by Dave Rogers)

The State Theater Ghost Tour is becoming a training ground for aspiring actors as well as a solid tourist draw.

This year the tour featured a dozen fully costumed players playing iconic Bay City characters from the past such as:

  • Joe Sempliner, mysterious magician of the 1920s on Water Street;

  • Floyd Ackerman, beloved manager of the Regent and Bay theaters, slain in a 1943 robbery by desperado Johnny Woos;

  • Anthony Chebatoris, Hamtramck bandits, tried and sentenced for murder in the Federal Building in Bay City and holding the unhappy designation of the 13th and last person executed in Michigan history;
  • Fabian Joe Fournier, whose murder on the Water Street ferryboat dock led to the Paul Bunyan legends and to a lasting saga of hauntings in the area;

  • Saloon Sally and Maggie Watson, "pretty waiter girls" of Hell's Half Mile, who were as deadly to unwary lumberjacks as they were attractive;

  • Canada 'Em, trollop named Emmaline, who was buried alive after police found her apparently dead in her jail cell in Old City Hall (she wasn't dead, only suffering from a catatonic fit,as boyfriend Bay City Bart found out when he dug her up);

  • "Human Fly" Harry H. Gardiner, who climbed the 150 foot City Hall Tower in 1921, causing half the town to turn out and watch his aerial antics; and

  • The ever-popular ghost of Green Avenue, Capt. Horace Warfield, found dead in his office in the Elm Lawn Cemetery gatehouse, either victim of self-destruction or calumny of cemetery workers -- an apparent unsolved crime from 1907.

    The tour, arranged by Mary Donnelly, director, attracted about 200 visitors, many out-of-towners, who appreciated the extra effort put on by the costumed and enthusiastic "ghosts."

    Mike Bacigalupo portrays Regent-Bay theater manager Floyd Ackerman, slain in 1943 robbery, in coffin as he receives encouragement from Ghost Tour Director Mary Donnelly.
    (MyBayCity Photo by Dave Rogers)

    Former Simmons Jewelry employee Amy Buczek enthralls tour patrons with first-hand tales of Orville the Friendly Ghost of the Jewelry Store from her days working at the store.
    (MyBayCity Photo by Dave Rogers)

    Fabian Joe Fournier, as portrayed by retired school administrator Mike Olk, leaves the last bus of the night after frightening patrons with his ghostly stories of his 1875 murder that occurred on the Water Street ferryboat dock.
    (MyBayCity Photo by Dave Rogers)


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    Dave Rogers

    Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
    respected journalist/writer in and around Bay City.
    (Contact Dave Via Email at

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