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Mason Winfield leads Spa City walk examining its ghostly past

Mason Winfield doesn't carry special cameras; he's not a psychic, and he's never had a conversation with the deceased. All the same, he's bringing ghosts and other paranormal happenings to anyone in Saratoga Springs who's willing to take a stroll.

I'm not going to talk to the spirits and tell you what they say, said Winfield to a group forming in front of the Saratoga Arts Council to take in his Haunted History Ghost Walk on a Friday night. "I'm not going to take pictures and show you 'orbs.'"

What Winfield's walk does contain is an introduction to the varied history, architecture and lore of Saratoga Springs. It's not about what Winfield calls "the Hollywood theory of ghosts," focused on stereotypical apparitions or ghastly rumors.

"I don't deal with spirits, I deal with reports," said Winfield.

That means he spends more time in libraries than one might imagine. If the paranormal community was projected onto a scale, with complete skeptics on one end and total spiritualistic belief on the other, Winfield says that his work would fall somewhere in the middle. Neither doubtful nor exuberant, his work sticks to the facts.

The Saratoga Springs tour hits a number of stops over roughly 90 minutes. While Winfield isn't always in town, there are several other tour guides who know all about the city's paranormal past.

There are a number of haunting and odd tales to be found in Congress Park and along Broadway, and sometimes groups go as far as Circular Street. "There are so many businesses, and they all have ghost stories," said Winfield.

One of those stories involves a former Broadway hotel, where two caretakers were known for keeping a number of cats. Today the building houses a yoga studio, where participants with no knowledge of the site's history often report the sensation of something small and furry brushing against their legs as they contort their bodies.

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