By Seline Jung, Staff Writer
Boston during the winter holiday season is as bright, cheery and traditional as it gets, but there is so much more for those of us with an eclectic taste. From horse-drawn carriage rides through historic Beacon Hill to 24-hour improv comedy shows to half- naked Santa runs, the next few weeks in the Hub is jam-packed with activity. Below are ten holiday happening picks around town:
The Boston Common – Provided itʼs not too freezing outside the park is a lovely place to sit with a hot drink and get away from city life for a bit, and this Thursday, Nov. 29, there will be a big tree lighting spectacle. The Frog Pond is now also officially open for ice skating.
The Revere Hotel – Right by the Common is the Revere Hotel, where there is currently a gourmet hot chocolate pop-up store, “Pop It Like Itʼs Hot.” Grab a friend and a free cup of hot choco on a Friday afternoon and find a nice spot at the Frog Pond to watch some ice skaters fail.
Downtown Crossing – Not only is Downtown Crossing always usually a premier shopping spot, the largest holiday market in the area is happening every day until Dec. 24. Need last-minute holiday gifts? Find one-of-a-kind handmade goods from local artists, including homeware, clothing, jewelry and photos.
Newbury Street – Bostonʼs chicest street is packed with holiday activity this season. Dec. 8 will be a particularly busy day, with approximately 500 men and women expected to run down the street as a part of the Santa Speedo Run. The same day is also the annual “Holiday Stroll” in which retailers will be hosting events, giveaways and discount deals among free food, drink and entertainment.
Harvard Square – The annual Harvard Square Holiday Crafts Fair is not like any other crafts market. Apparently it is “more like a party where you can buy stuff,” according to its official website. The fair runs from Dec. 1 until the 23. It is open every Saturday and Sunday, as well as Friday’s starting Dec. 7 and weekdays beginning Dec. 18.
Boston Ballet – No holiday season is complete without a good show or two. The classic ballet “The Nutcracker” opens at the Boston Ballet, and runs until Dec. 31. For an adult alternative check out “The Slutcracker” at the Somerville Theatre, a burlesque retelling of Tchaikovskyʼs story. It has consistently sold out shows and scandalized audiences since it first started in 2008.
Royale Nightclub – Bostonʼs biggest night club is hosting an alternative music concert festival, “A Very GK! Holiday Festival.”
Improv Asylum Theatre – If you havenʼt been to this comedy club yet, you must this holiday season. Check out the official site for all event listings – a big one is the 24-hour improv show to benefit Globe Santa. There will apparently be celebrity guests throughout the night as well as live auctions. Laugh for a good cause on Dec. 7.
Citi Performing Arts Center – Feeling like a Grinch this holiday season? How about visiting Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical at the Citi Wang Theatre. The musical runs until Dec. 9.
Beacon Hill – This streets in this historic neighborhood will close for a few hours on Dec. 8 for the annual “Beacon Hill Holiday Stroll.” A perfect outing for time with family, there will be plenty of free music, horse-carriage rides, refreshments and even a tree lighting.
You can follow all of these Holiday Happenings in Boston via The Daily Free Press Foursquare account.
By Jasmine Ferrell, Staff Writer
Last week, I said I would do a personal investigation, and indeed I did. Boston Common was the obvious choice for a first timer, as numerous sources informed me. When I emailed the Paranormal Research Association of Boston, they sent back a personal email telling me this was the place to start, and considering their background I decided to trust them.
A little background to get us off the ground: Boston Common is haunted. That’s it. Well, unless you actually look up the history. Boston Common was started as a public park where families could enjoy a picturesque stroll in the afternoon sun… or witness a brutal public hanging. Many people were hung on the historic elm tree until it was replaced by the gallows, and it is rumored even a dog was subjected to this death penalty. Why a dog was hung? No one will ever know. Oh, and don’t forget about the Central Burying Ground, a huge grave of about 900 bodies. I guess this is why I was told to go there for my first experience.
The claimed hauntings have some consistent characters that are frequently seen by park visitors. First, there are the two assumed 1830s sisters who are often seen chatting or walking together until someone approaches them, causing them to disappear. A creepier story is that of a small female ghost who lacks a face, but she’s reportedly a fresh ghost on the scene and a wee bit shy.
Part of the inspiration for this piece was indeed the conversation my group had at the end of The Boston Night Tour last weekend. Our guide led us to the plaque marking the sight of the old elm tree where so many people died. The guide then took out a small flashlight and twisted the top so it was just barely off. He spent about a solid five minutes doing this to eliminate the possibility of it just randomly turning on and off, as that would also be how the ghost would communicate. It’s a classic technique where a ghost will answer yes or no questions by illuminating the flashlight with all of its energy. From our interaction with the “ghost” (there is no way to be certain it was legitimate), we learned that it was a male who had been in the army. When we asked if he knew Paul Revere, the flashlight enthusiastically lit up the brightest and longest we had seen that night.
What about my personal investigation? Unfortunately, I’ve been strategically waiting to save this bit for the end because it was, quite simply, a letdown. I went there after I finished at my job around 9 p.m., and it seemed the perfect night to talk to some ghosts. I sat in the park for about an hour or so, trying to talk to the ghosts, taking pictures with my digital camera, and basically looking like a crazy person to anyone who happened to pass by. Perhaps I needed better equipment, or maybe the ghosts just don’t like me, but I didn’t have any luck. But hey, there’s still plenty of time until Halloween for you to give it a try yourself. Maybe you’ll hit the jackpot. Just don’t tell me, I’d be really jealous.
By Jasmine Ferrell, Staff Writer
For the next few weeks, Jasmine will be exploring Boston and the surrounding areas and recommending spooky places and attractions to check out before Halloween.
In the spirit of the season, I’ve spent days generating ideas for a blog series, and I’ve come up with one to focus on the perfect tree decorating scheme. Oh wait, never mind. That would be for Christmas, and it’s still the middle of October. I guess that one will have to wait.
When October shows its face on that inspirational wall calendar, horror season hits, and everyone out there is searching for the best terrors. There are numerous commercial haunted sites, trails and the like, but what did I want? Authenticity. This week and the two following I strive to reveal the best Boston’s notorious history has to offer, but to start, I needed some education. Ghost tours are a popular tourist scheme, and if you shell out the top money you can be escorted to a picturesque grave yard where you’ll hear tales, whether true or not, told by a charismatic tour guide.
Often times these are more for show, but they’re also not half bad and at a low cost. During “The Boston Night Tour,” with admission of $15, an educated tour guide took us to many actual sites of Boston’s best ghost encounters while he informed us about the legitimacy or the questionable nature of each story. I was lead personally by the ideal paranormal researcher, Andrew, who had a long ponytail, a paranormal museum t-shirt and had one of those beards and voices most associated with wisdom. He was a believer.
Starting at the actual site of the Boston massacre, the group learned the story of Crispus Attucks and his ghost. When some construction on the square had begun, people would come off the street into the Old State House exclaiming that one of their tour guides just disappeared. Time after time, the witnesses described the same man: a tall man, with broad shoulders and a red top hat. He was supposedly standing at the exact spot where Crispus died, suddenly clutching his chest and collapsing to the ground, then disappearing. Although there were documentations of the dying tour guide sightings, the team couldn’t find anything. Strange, isn’t it?
Next, we proceeded to the back door of the Old State House to hear the story of the cursed figure head. This one carved woman was supposed to have killed hundreds of men while surviving multiple exploding ships and burning buildings without being scorched. Even the tour guide questioned this claim. Was it really cursed, or is this more the case of finding the common factor? Because it was a tour, there were more than just these two spots of course, but I can’t give everything away. For further enticement, though, I will reveal that the tour concludes with a ghostly conversation in the most haunted place in Boston: The Boston Common.
Next week, I will test my own belief and attempt a private investigation of The Common, so be prepared to be blown away by all the amazing evidence that I hopefully find.
By Heather Goldin
Let’s do the time warp again! Oh, you don’t know how to do “The Time Warp”? You must be a “Rocky” virgin!
“Rocky” virgin (n): Someone who has never heard of and/or seen the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” in a theater with a live cast.
If you fit this description, you are really missing out! Going to “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is not just a Boston University bucket list item. The picture show has been shown in theaters across the country since 1975, and Boston’s Full Body Cast is no exception. “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is a simultaneous double feature, so as the movie plays, the cast acts it out simultaneously. For the same price as a movie ticket, why wouldn’t you see two shows at once? You can find this crazy cast every Saturday night at the AMC Boston Common, where it recently moved to after ending its stint at AMC Loews Harvard Square 5.
It’s easy to take the T to the theater, but getting home is a different story. The show will end around 2 a.m., but the T stops running around 1 a.m. Make sure you plan to take a cab home! Or you can walk the three miles back to campus, but that’s a good enough reason to bring friends.
“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is easily one of the most famous cult classics, known for lots of audience participation, props and over-the-top costumes. Not to be mistaken for an actual horror movie, the picture show is a science fiction musical. More than anything, the picture show is a comedy. “Rocky” virgins don’t have to know the lines, but part of the fun is just listening to “The Rocky Horror” crew shout out obscene responses as the movie plot unravels. Judging by the lines that the members call out, you would not be surprised if they knew the entire movie by heart. In my opinion, the lines make up the show. I think I was laughing out loud 90 percent of the time, and the other 10 percent I was trying to catch my breath.
As far as props go, you can purchase a “bag of shit” for just a dollar at the entrance of the show. Each prop is used during relevant scenes in the movie, from a bag of rice to toss at some newly weds, to a party hat that everyone puts on during a group dinner. Confused? Don’t worry because it’s easy to know when each prop is used because everyone around you is participating as well. Speaking of those around you, make sure you bring friends because you will probably be singing the catchy songs together long after you get back from an excursion to “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” Keep in mind that while some props are the same at every theater, all theaters have specific guidelines on what is and isn’t allowed. Make sure you check out the Full Body Cast site before planning a visit.
The show always starts at midnight, but that doesn’t mean the movie starts rolling right away. Before the movie, the cast members start the show with some hilarious entertainment, usually consisting of skits that are complete with unique costumes, music and lighting. “The Rocky Horror” members at the AMC Boston Common theater go all out, and that is due to their amazing cast and crew. They have specialists for costumes, props, lights and security. Everyone at “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is in character, and nobody takes the job lightly.
And of course, what would be the point of “Rocky” virgins if their virginity wasn’t taken at the show? Before the start of the movie, the cast usually asks who the virgins are in the audience. Most of the time this could be up to half of the audience members, so usually just a handful of virgins are selected to come up to the front of the theater. The de-flowering process of “Rocky” virgins also changes from theater to theater. The deflowering process ranges from having to dance in front of the crowd to having a huge red “V” drawn on your forehead. You don’t have to admit you’re a virgin, but after watching other virgins lose it, you might wish you took part in the fun.
Whether you are in the spotlight or not, by the end of the night you will be considered experienced in viewing “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” You will know what all the fuss is about, with no regrets to going. The best part of “The Rocky Horror” tradition is that once you’ve had your fun, you will want to go back with your virgin friends to show them what they have been missing.