The Haunted Tour Re-CAP: Going Virtual in the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Haunted Tour Re-CAP: Going Virtual in the COVID-19 Pandemic

With COVID-19 still dictating much of our day-to-day lives, Campus Archaeology made the early call to put all of our outreach events for the foreseeable future online or in some digital format. One of our most popular and fun events we put on is the annual Apparitions and Archaeology Haunted Campus Tour. This usually takes place in the week before Halloween. This year, we made our haunted tour a virtual event that occurred in the form of videos, a choose-your-own-path digital tour, and a live panel Q&A session. This event was facilitated by the MSU Alumni Office and hosted by CAP director Dr. Stacey L. Camp along with the CAP Fellows and Brienna Shear, Co-President of the MSU Paranormal Society.

In the usual in-person event, CAP Fellows and MSU Paranormal Society members are stationed at the “haunted” locations on campus. At each stop CAP and Paranormal Society speakers relay the history, archaeology, and reported hauntings to audience members who then move on to a new stop. In preparation for this year’s virtual event, CAP released a new choose-your-own path digital tour (made through Twine).

The benefit of this version of the tour was that CAP was able to add much more historical, archaeological, and contextual information to each of the stops than we could possibly share the in-person event. This new information includes descriptions of historical campus figures, artifacts, student life, and even administrative and construction accounts that played a part in the shaping of campus. Additionally, Elizabeth Schondelmayer, the Communications Coordinator for the College of Social Sciences created a spooky trailer for the event while Devante Kennedy, the Digital Production Lead for the Alumni Office, helped CAP create a haunted tour video.

Map of some of the stops on the Apparitions and Archaeology: A Haunted Campus Tour. Map by Jack A. Biggs

As mentioned above, CAP hosted a live Q&A session on Wednesday the 28th, the same night the in-person event would have occurred. After some technical difficulties getting started (archaeologists are more comfortable around dirt and old artifacts than computers!), viewers who joined in were able to ask the panel questions about the history or hauntings of campus. While we love doing the in-person event, this virtual format afforded some great advantages.

First, we were able to have a much more open dialogue with the audience. During the normal in-person event, speakers are not afforded much time to answer questions about specific locations or paranormal experiences. Speakers at each site present quick spiel of the history and hauntings and there is time for maybe one or two questions before the next group of attendees arrives. The virtual panel hosted on October 28th gave the audience the ability to ask many more questions, even if they were submitted beforehand, and allowed us (the panel) to answer to a degree or depth for which we normally wouldn’t have the time.

Secondly, and related to the first point, the panel format allowed a much larger breadth of questions. In the in-person event, the few questions there is time for are usually related to the specific site or location where the speakers and attendees are. Hosting a virtual Q&A session meant that people could ask any question they wanted about our normally discussed sites, different areas on campus that they may have a connection to, campus history in general, our experiences within Campus Archaeology, and even about hauntings in other areas of campus. The amount and range of topics we were asked about could have only been addressed in this digital format.

Screenshot of a page on the Twine Haunted Tour.

Lastly, the virtual event meant that attendees did not even have to be in the East Lansing area to attend. While the pandemic has been rough on us all, it has simultaneously made everyone rethink how to best communicate and share information with each other. As a result, some of the attendees for the event may have even been on the other side of the country! This means that while we may all prefer in-person events, the Covid-19 pandemic has not stopped us from sharing fascinating histories, accounts, and artifacts from MSU’s campus.

While the in-person Haunted Tour is always one of our favorites to host, the virtual Q&A session gave us the opportunity for a more in-depth and personal dialogue with attendees. Hopefully, this pandemic will come to a swift end so that we can get back to “normal”. Until that time, though, CAP is committed to public outreach in the safest and most impactful way possible.

If you happened to miss the event or would like re-watch any of the videos or take our Twine Tour, please click on the links below!

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