Near City Light’s Skagit Hydroelectric Project stands Concrete, Wash., population: 729. Its earliest settlers can be traced back to the 1890s, and through an influx of industries (including, of course, a cement production), Concrete was set to be the metropolis of Skagit County. Over time, jobs came and went; the lumber industry tapered off, mining dissolved and the cement plant closed.
But the one thing that never left were the people – dead or alive.
Valerie Stafford, owner of the Concrete Theatre, grew up in Concrete. After moving around Washington, she and her husband returned and purchased the Concrete Theatre.
While vacationing in Georgia, Valerie attended multiple ghost tours out of curiosity. When she came home, she questioned if Concrete itself had any ghostly inhabitance.
“I am not particularly susceptible to paranormal experiences” Valerie explains. “I don’t know what to think about people coming back to haunt an area, but after spending time in the theatre alone, I have come to believe.”
“I decided to go door to door to all of the businesses on Main Street to ask them if they thought their buildings were haunted. I was amazed by how many people told me that they had had some paranormal experience or had at least heard stories. However, nobody was scared. Instead, many took that as part of what you got with the structures – most of the buildings had ghosts in them.”
After doing her research and connecting with people around Concrete, Valerie decided to organize the first Concrete Ghost Walk.
“When we advertised it, I didn’t think that anyone would show up, but to my surprise, we had 20 to 30 attendees. I was stunned to see that many people interested in the ghosts of Concrete! We’ve been doing it ever since.”
On the walks, Valerie shares some of her own personal spooky experiences.
“For a while, I was scared to drive home at night after a Ghost Walk,” she explained. “I would drive past the buildings in the dark and couldn’t help but think about what had happened in some of them.”
Sometimes, strange things even happened during the walks from flickering streetlights to issues with technology.
“We’ve had people tell us that in certain spots, their watches stopped working or they can’t get their phones to work. One year we had a black cat follow us through the whole town, it was bizarre. People also see unexplainable things in the shadows.”
The frights go beyond just the Ghost Walk. “I have had so many weird and unexplainable experiences in the Theatre. One night, people thought they saw orbs and that their seats were vibrating for no reason.”
Valerie herself has had close encounters with paranormal activity, as well. She shares some of them during the Ghost Walk.
“I have had things brush up against my arm or thought there was someone standing beside me while sitting in the balcony. There are plenty of other weird things that I just can’t explain.”
After all the nonhuman interactions Valerie has experienced, she says that she is never scared to go back to the Theatre.
“After talking to so many people on Main Street about the ghosts in their buildings, we’ve concluded that these ghosts have no intention of harming us. We don’t believe that they are threatening or evil; we think of them as people that loved Concrete so much that they never wanted to leave!”
The Ghost Walk is a highlight of the spooky season in Concrete, but don’t be fooled; they are not intentionally meant to scare participants or convince them that ghosts exist.
“The walks let you see, meet and hear the stories of the people that used to live there. We share these stories so people can learn why these buildings are haunted. People come from all over, and they have so much fun!” Valerie exclaims.
The 90-minute Ghost Walk is offered at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. every Saturday night in October. Tickets can only be purchased online at https://ghostwalk.bpt.me/. Valerie suggests that attendees be 16 or older to attend the tour. Those with any mobility issues may need to make other arrangements.
The Concrete community offers a variety of unique events year-round! Learn more at concrete-wa.com/.