Ghostly Encounters

NAME: Hope Holloway

AGE: 37

BIO: Hope Holloway is no stranger to ghost stories - she lives them every night as a tour guide with Chattanooga Ghost Tours. The actress/storyteller, wife (of another ghost tour guide, John Holloway) and mother of two spends her days homeschooling her children, and by night leads a group of thrill-seekers through the streets, telling stories of Chattanooga's lesser-known and more haunted past.

"I have more costumes than regular clothes. I have Victorian, antebellum, steam punk and sometimes I'll do the goth thing. The main reason is so I will stand out if someone gets separated from the group, but it also draws attention so people ask who I am and what I'm doing. I'm just that little girl that never grew out of playing dress up."

photo Hope Holloway, tour guide for Chattanooga Ghost Tours

? On Halloween of '97, I got into a terrible car accident. They had to airlift me to the hospital and they lost my pulse five times. My whole face had to be rebuilt with titanium. Then, seven years to the day, my twins were born - they gave me a reason to like Halloween again.

? More supernatural things tend to happen close to Halloween. My husband and I both used to think that was bunk, but as we've been doing this, we've discovered that it really does have some sort of influence on the activity. We don't know why.

? Supernatural things just kind of always happen around me. When my husband's with me, I always joke and say, 'I draw strange things.' The owner of the ghost tour says that I get more unusual pictures on the tours taken by guests than all the other tour guides combined. I think it's because I'm open minded. I won't just believe anything, either. I'm not a skeptic, but I like to see it to believe it. I'm kind of in the middle.

"My theory on the activities is that if you're around an area that is rich in history and things happened in the past, then you'll feel the echo of things that happened in the past in the present."

? Once on a tour, we were at this spot under the Blue Cross Blue Shield parking deck - it's been the place where the oddest things have happened. I was leading a group of about 25-30 people. A 4-year-old boy was in my group, and he didn't really know what was going on. He wasn't paying attention to the tour and was just running around and playing by himself. It's always hot down there in the underground and all of a sudden it got at least 15 degrees colder. Even the ones in the group who were skeptics knew that something was going on. My eye was drawn to the little boy - he had stopped playing, was standing completely still and had this look on his face. He said, 'Mom, I heard a voice.' And his mother asked him, 'What did the voice say?' And the little boy said, 'The voice said, GET OUT.' I normally don't get's my job. It's a joke in my family that I never get scared, but I was afraid then.

? There were two young fellas on vacation that were on the tour one night and when we got to the Blue Cross Blue Shield parking deck, they seemed concerned about being there. The night before they had been eating out and walking around and saw an African-American fella in an old-timey business suit walking around the area like he owned the place, and then he disappeared. There was construction at the parking deck at the time, and the area was blocked off, so no one would have been in there. They didn't know that in 1894 it was an undertaker's office owned by G.W. Franklin, an African-American man. He would have been walking around in a suit acting like he owned the place ... because he did.

"I used to have day jobs, but I wasn't doing what I loved. Now my kids say, 'Mommy, you're smiling a lot now.' I think it's a good example to set for them. It's not easy having that goal of doing what you love full time, but it's worth working on."

? The stories on the ghost tour are all based on documented resources and historical facts. We're not just making up ghost stories. I've had a lot of skeptics that by the end of it, they believed them because I was telling true stories and I believed them.

? I grew up in Northwest Georgia performing at historic Barnsley Gardens, The Vann House... I've always had a history base to my performance. When I was looking to move to Chattanooga, I saw the ghost tours and thought that would be a great opportunity. I wanted a full-time performance job and I love history. It was just meant to be.