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Saratoga Springs' spooky side

"It's just full of life," he said.

Saratoga has proved intriguing enough that Winfield even wrote a book about it, "Supernatural Saratoga: Haunted Places and Famous Ghosts of the Spa City." He tries to do a couple of Saratoga tours each year, but he's partnered with the Saratoga Arts Center so that local tour guides are available when he's not. The idea of "franchising" ghost walks isn't one that he'd normally recommend, since the walks need to be very localized, but it works in Saratoga, he said.

"It does quite well," he said. On a good night, 200 people might turn out for the walk.

Still, he knows that there's a stigma sometimes attached to anything purporting to do with the paranormal.

"A lot of respectable people don't want anything to do with ghosts," Winfield said.

He could just as easily call the tours architectural or history walks, but that just doesn't have the same appeal, he said.

Joel Reed, executive director of the Saratoga Arts Center, added that these tours are "a little more than what you'd get from the historical society" since they touch on the paranormal happenings people have reported, as well as the history of the area.

"It's a real cultural tour," Reed said.

Winfield agreed, saying the walks focus on "multi-cultural folklore," with lessons that he believes can appeal to people of all ages.

The Saratoga tours are held every Wednesday and Friday until the end of October, with Saturday tours also offered in October. They begin at 7 p.m. at the Saratoga Arts Center, 320 Broadway at the corner of Spring Street. The cost is $10 for adults and $5 for children 7 to 11. Reed said the tours move at a nice pace, lasting for about 90 minutes.

"It's a strolling tour," he said. "It's not strenuous exercise."

For information, call the Saratoga Arts Center at 584-4132.""

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