Review | Elings Park’s First Ghosts Along the Coast of Santa Barbara

First Annual Ghosts Event Was a Spooky Success

All this Depression-era hobo (Kirk Martin) needed was a fine roof and their shack would have been the best in “Jungleland,” the hobo camp on Mrs. Child’s estate (now the site of the Santa Barbara Zoo). But living so near the train tracks proved fatal. His spine-tingling story was one of the tales heard at Elings Park’s Ghosts Along the Coast. | Credit: Courtesy

There’s a first time for everything, and Elings Park’s first annual Ghosts Along the Coast event did not disappoint — or fail to scare — in its inaugural shows October 13-16.

The event was held in Godric Grove, and the park’s sweeping overlook of vast city lights and the ocean was enough to capture the attention of guests. To add to this topographic drama, the event hosted six ghosts in a walkabout presentation, haunting the dark pathway and performing monologues about their unfinished business in the human dimension. 

Their speeches are best described by the tour guide, or ghost-hunter, “Robin Graves,” who called them “charming, weird tales about the force of the unexpected.” She prefaced the tour with the warning, “Stay close, mortals,” and we did, for about 90 minutes. As families, couples, and people from a wide array of ages walked the winding pathway of Godric Grove, six real or inspired ghosts from Santa Barbara history took turns describing their historical relevance, life stories, and most importantly, their reason for haunting the park.

The ghosts, charismatically played by a diverse cast of local actors, embodied a female bootlegger searching for her lost liquor, a Japanese picture bride yearning for her husband, a member of the famed Winfield Scott shipwreck, the editor of the Santa Barbara Morning Press who was infamously murdered on State Street, a mysterious lighthouse keeper, and a hobo trying to find his home in the afterlife.

Linked together by their respective restless spirits, the ghosts of Elings Park provided eclectic entertainment as they performed their unique scripts, created by Dean Noble, director of the park.

Perhaps one of the most impressive feats of the event was its ability to lace a rich history of the area within entertaining and spooky stories. One ghost even mentioned that her old stomping grounds throughout the 1920s was “where the Banana Republic is now.”

The tour ended with a poignant note from our guide, “Death is a fact of life … but if we’re lucky, maybe some of us will come back to this beautiful place to haunt,” with a nod toward the scenic Elings Park.

Look out for the annual Ghosts Along the Coast event in the coming years, and be prepared for some spooky fun storytelling from historically inspired ghosts.

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