Father and son bring ghost tours to Tacoma

Charlie and Andrew Hansen didn't set out looking for ghost stories.

But over the course of months of research, ghost stories are what they found - enough to launch a new business leading guided ghost walks of downtown Tacoma with more to spare.

"This was never started as a ghost tour," says Charlie, a retired fire investigator who began researching Tacoma disasters for a fundraiser when son Andrew was a student at Tacoma's School of the Arts.

He says during the course of their research, he and Andrew soon uncovered a wealth of stories about ghosts, UFOs and strange events. These stories piqued their interest enough that they continued researching, amassing at least 50 ghost stories.

"Tacoma-Pierce County has every reason to be haunted," says Andrew, citing Tacoma's beginnings as a "rough and tumble" port town. "Anyone who knows Tacoma is not going to be too surprised that we have a lot of hauntings."

Charlie and Andrew are passionate about Tacoma, and the resurgence of its downtown, and say every story they tell is rooted in real Tacoma history.

"We're really more of historical researchers who have come across ghost stories, rather than ghost hunters," says Charlie.

In the early days of their research, Charlie and Andrew thought they'd have to spice up some of the stories. They were surprised to find that they haven't had to over-exaggerate anything for the tour. The stories are strange enough.

The tour loops from the Pantages Theater to Old City Hall and back again over the course of 90 minutes. This location is key to many of the stories, beginning with reports of not one, but three ghosts haunting the Pantages Theater alone.

Charlie and Andrew steer clear of stories deemed too obvious.

"We really pride ourselves on not talking about Ted Bundy or any of those other guys," says Andrew.

Instead, many of the stories they tell came from comparing reports from their own friends and relatives with their historical research. One story manages to connect Tacoma to John F. Kennedy to UFOs. Another leads tour-goers past what Charlie and Andrew believe is an unmarked graveyard - in the heart of old downtown.

To learn more, well, you'll have to take a tour.

What: Tacoma Ghost Tours

Where: Downtown Tacoma. Tours depart from the Pantages Theater.

When: Thursday through Sunday, 5:30 p.m., nightly during Halloween week.

How much: $15 per person

If you go: Tours last 90 minutes, and are intended to be family friendly. Call (253) 759-3015 to book.

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