See the sordid and spooky on Seattle tours

All is not still when the fish throwers and flower sellers leave Pike Place Market at night.

That’s when the hobgoblins set up shop.

Silhouettes appear in windows. Spirits duel it out in a walk-in freezer. Listen closely and you can hear lullabies from the legendary lady barber who’d sing her customers to sleep and then empty their pockets.

Ghost tours bring the hoary market to life — and death.

Haunted tours are offered around Seattle all year, but are especially popular in October. There are lots of options. Shop around for the fright right for you.

Some tour companies claim to have bona fide paranormal investigators, while others pride themselves in not using cheap frights and parlor tricks to spook.

Spooked in Seattle says its guides tell stories that are 100 percent true: No made up tales just to scare you. And the tour business uses real ghost-hunting equipment on treks through the alleys and underground of Seattle.

For youngsters, there’s a special “kiddie tour” with stories of the children that are rumored to haunt the city.

Private Eye Tours shuttles people in vans around Seattle neighborhoods on various murder and mystery tours, complete with cemetery stops. Beware: This isn’t kid stuff.

“We recommend ages 12 and above because a lot is adult subject matter,” Private Eye Tours owner Jake Jacobson said. “We talk about brothels, and some parents don’t want their kids to hear that. And a lot of ghosts are produced by murder or suicide or accidental death.”

Jacobson sticks with the facts. “It’s all true. It’s been well researched.”

Still, some things can’t be explained. “A couple months ago a woman had her hair pulled on the tour,” Jacobson said. “There was no one around her. It was in an alley in the Chinatown-International District. She was standing by this door. She said, ‘Somebody has been pulling on my hair.’”

That might sound more up Anthony McDonald’s alley. He markets his Original Ghost Tours of Pioneer Square as the most controversial ghost tour in the U.S.

“There is a shocker at the end of the tour,” McDonald said. “We’re out to shock people not scare them. People hate it or they love it. There’s no in-between.”

He adds hysterics to history. “It’s a blend of fact and fiction,” he said.

Market Ghost Tours has a mortuary investigation tour that’s sure to rattle your bones.

Believe it. Or not.

“Oh, yeah. We love skeptics,” Market Ghost Tours owner Mercedes Carrabba said.

She fearlessly takes groups through the eerie chambers of what was once a mortuary at Pike Place Market. There’s now an Irish pub in the building.

“We want people to connect with the market’s history,” Carrabba said. “It’s very interactive.”

She was raised a “market rat” at Pike Place.

“I was 9 years old when my father started the tour in 1980s. We used to do it only on Halloween night,” she said.

Now, every night is fright night.

There are even haunted pub crawls for those who like spirits with their spirits.

Reservations are required for most tours.

Some require parental discretion.

An open mind also helps.

Or not.

If you go

Private Eye Tours: “True Crime Tours” and “Seattle Ghost Tours.” Tours are by van and last several hours.

Cost: $28

Information: 206-365-3739, www.privateeyetours.com

Market Ghost Tours: Guided walking tours of Pike Place Market. Shop is at 1499 Post Alley, below the main entrance of the market.

Cost: $16.50 to $20 for adults

Information: 206-805-0195, www.seattleghost.com

Spooked in Seattle: Guided walking tours, a weekend haunted pub crawl in Pioneer Square and a ghost-busting trip for kids. The event center, 102 Cherry St., has movie nights, game nights, meetings and a gift shop.

Cost: $16 to $30 for adults

Information: 425-954-7701, www.spookedinseattle.com

The Original Ghost Tours of Pioneer Square: Weekly tour around Pioneer Square.

Cost: $16

Information: 206-326-9582, www.theoriginalghosttoursofpioneersquare.com

Andrea Brown; 425-339-3443; abrown@heraldnet.com.

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