More than ten years have passed since Hurricane Katrina disrupted the routine of daily life in New Orleans, changing the crescent city forever. The horrors of that day, as well as it’s aftermath, still loom large over the Big Easy, and residents both living and dead have had to adapt to a new reality.
One of the major institutions that keep the city afloat is tourism, and a major part of the tourism dollar is comprised of walking tours; many of which focus on the spirits that had so much fun in life that they refuse to leave the comfort of the French Quarter.
There are several tour companies that help to share the haunted history of New Orleans. Ranked near the top of that list is French Quarter Phantoms, which was recently named as one of the Best of Louisiana.
Their frightening, freaky and friendly group of tour guides all have their own special way of making you laugh while sending a chill up your spine! Each guide’s tour is a little different. You will be surprised what some “Nice” Ladies and Gentlemen are capable of doing!
Recently, Palm Beach Happening sat down with owner Cindi Richardson, who described a bit more about the company, the city, and why she’s been walking the streets of New Orleans for money for the past several years!
Do you like scary movies? (The best opening question in film history, IMHO) Love scary movies – the low budget ones the best! I think I have watched literally thousands of them.
How long have you been in the tour business? I’ve been in the tour business since 2000 – so 15 years
What is the strangest thing to ever happen to you while conducting a tour? Some years ago, we were conducting a small private night time cemetery tour at Holt Cemetery in New Orleans. One of the participants phone rang in the middle of the cemetery and he pulled it out to silence it and said it was his best friends number – his best friend had passed away close to a year prior. We all gathered around and he put it on speaker phone and hit redial – we heard a low static sound for about 15 seconds – then the line went dead – creeped everybody out. Several other participants phones and cameras quit working while in the cemetery and then resumed working when we got back in the van to leave .
Do you believe in ghosts? YES – I actually have something like a personal ghost that has appeared to me off and on since childhood. “he ” stays about 10 feet away and I can’t make out his features – just seems to be watching me, then disappears. I also have a strange story about the house I live in now,
All of my life I have had a recurrent dream where I was in an old house with a side porch – I am on the side porch, there’s no furniture and everything is painted white – and I am afraid for no reason. I walk down the porch and enter the house through a set of french doors into a very small room that has a fireplace on one wall and on another wall there is a door “floating” about 5 feet above floor level, with no stairs to enter it. I open the door and pull myself into the stairway and walk up the stairs becoming increasingly afraid the closer to the top I get- I always woke up before I got to the top and was literally petrified. … So about 15 years ago I was riding my bicycle through the neighborhood next the the French Quarter and a man was having a “garage sale” in front of this big old house – he was selling everything that wasn’t nailed down and some stuff that was – doors – hinges, all kinds of stuff. He says he inherited the house and it was in his grandparents will that it not be sold out of the family. He has been in court for the last few years trying to get the right to sell it and he finally has so it is going on the market tomorrow morning. I said can I go in and look, he says yes but be careful, the house has been vacant for 36 years. So I go in and when I get to the back of the house – theres a side porch – french doors – and across from the doors a fireplace and on the adjacent wall there is indeed a door about 4 feet up on the wall with no steps leading up to it – WOW! Long story short – I bought the house. It was built in 1869 – I’ve lived in it and worked on it for the past 15 years and I have not had the dream one single time since I moved in. There is a rental unit on one side of the house and everyone I have ever rented to claims their stuff gets moved around and they feel like someone is watching them while they sleep.
Do you enjoy haunted attractions? If so, which is your favorite? I do not like “haunted house” type attractions. I prefer the anticipation of what may happen in a movie or a story but not the fake costumed type things jumping out at me.
What is your favorite thing about working at Haunted Tours? I just love the business – my staff is very close and a top notch bunch of nerdy oddballs. The customers are great, they are in a good mood and looking to have fun.
What new and exciting things are you working on for the tour? Now I can’t tell you that and spoil it! LOL
What do you look for when you hire tour guides, and how would someone apply to be one? Becoming a guide with French Quarter Phantoms is no easy feat! We are super picky and when we have an opening we audition on average 100 people to pick 1 ! It is based on your story telling ability , personality, and education background. Training takes around 2 months and then to become licensed you must pass a federal background check, a drug screen and a history test administered by the City of New Orleans.
Which tour would you most recommend for first time visitors? If it is your first visit to New Orleans I always recommend our tour of St Louis #1 Cemetery. Our burial customs and practices , along with the above ground tombs are very unique. Something you won’t see in another city. If it is a bachelorette or bachelor party – we recommend our Saints and Sinners, Dirty little French Quarter History Tour (adults only) . Our Ghost & Vampire tour is appropriate for all types of people and is our most popular tour – it comes with a BOGO Hurricane deal for the adults – you can bring a cocktail along as our Master Story Tellers entertain you with tales of History , Hauntings and Horrors… hahaha Good times for all!
With all the haunted tours in New Orleans, why should someone visit French Quarter Phantoms? You are right – there are a lot of haunted tours in New Orleans. Visitors should pick our tour on the basis of the quality of our guides, they are Master Story Tellers with a real passion for New Orleans and her history. We are ranked with TripAdvisor in the Top Ten Ghost Tours Around the World http://www.tripadvisor.com/TripNews-a_ctr.ghosttoursEN . One reviewer said we were “the strangest bunch of real historians you will ever have the pleasure of spending time with” I think that is an accurate description.
Palm Beach Happening would like to thank French Quarter Phantoms for taking the time to answer some of our questions. It is an amazing tour, and is the subject of one of our earliest #TravelTuesday pieces. Check it out!
If you’re interested in haunted tours, but don’t have the funds to travel out to New Orleans right now, you’re in luck. Check out our recent review of Delray Ghost Tours, and have a hauntingly good time!