What can be more apropos during Halloween month than a trip to the Magic Capital of the World, which happens to be right in the Southwest Michigan town with the somewhat snickery name of Colon.
But you won't be laughing when you sign up for this bus tour of the town and environs, where there are more famous magicians and vaudevillians buried in the cemetery you'll visit than anywhere else in America. You'll be shivering with delight, in fact.
A bus tour featuring the “hot spots” of ghosts and magic will be held on Oct. 26, in this town that bills itself the Magic Capital of the World for good reason. For the past 75 years, magic has been synonymous with Colon.
Very few people in Michigan know it, but this town near the Indiana border has become world famous as the "Home of Hocus Pocus", where equipment and articles for magicians are manufactured for sale all over the universe, to amateur and professional magicians. For the past 75 years magic has been synonymous with Colon, and it's been featured on national TV programs, and is also famous for its annual magic festival, now taking up an entire week in August, and known as Magic Week.
There is no other cemetery in America that has 28 magicians and 13 vaudevillians buried in one place. You'll even take in a magic show and participate in a seance, and the trip even includes dinner.
You'll meet the bus in Three Rivers or in Detroit. Cost from Three Rivers is $50 per person and includes: Motorcoach, magic show, séance, meal. Advance registration is required. For those leaving from metro Detroit, the cost is $70 per person and the bus will depart from The Big Kmart, 12 Mile & John R, Madison Heights, directly under the sign at the tip of the parking lot, exactly at noon on Oct. 26.
3:30 P.M. – Bus departs Meijer, 800 S US Highway 131, Three Rivers. Cars can be left in the lot.
4 – 5:30 P.M. – Magic Show at FAB Magic, Colon featuring illusions and mind-reading, also called mentalism. Includes an explanation of Magic and why Colon was the magnet for magicians.
5:40 PM – 6:30 PM – Dinner at Dawn & Phil's Restaurant, Colon, including a talk about paranormal activity.
6 – 8 P.M. – Bus tour of Colon and the magician's homes led by “re-enactor Harry Blackstone.” The real Blackstone was one of the 20th century's most famous magicians (as was his son, Harry Jr.) and takes tour-goers throughout the city, including a tour of the Magic Cemetery that features a look at the graves of famous magician's and vaudevillians.
8– 10:30 PM – Séance held in the cemetery. Tour-goers can strategically place tape recorders at various locations in the cemetery to try to pick up EVP's – Electronic Voice Phenomena. Wear flat-sole shoes.
10:40 PM – 11:40 PM – Drive by actual haunted homes in the county – for serious ghost hunters.
11:40 PM – Bus returns to parking lot at Meijer, 800 S US Highway 131, Three Rivers.
Stay overnight at the America's Best Value Inn & Suites, 1211 W Broadway, Three Rivers, 269.273.8100 at a special price of $65 per room and includes breakfast. Pets are welcomed but cannot be left in the room alone. To register directly with the hotel, use the code: Ghosts Oct.26, 2013 when you call.
October 27, 2013 Tour Schedule
Tour of three historic cemeteries is $35 per person and runs 10 A.M.-2 P.M. Board bus at 9:45 am.
A little history of the town: Colon's role in the world of magic began in 1925 when Harry Blackstone, the great magician and illusionist, bought property which is still known as Blackstone Island. Blackstone and his troupe would spend the summer there, designing their shows and perfecting their craft. Before Blackstone hit the road, he would open with a show in Hill's Opera House, a 600-seat auditorium. Though it was a dress rehearsal for Blackstone, it was a chance to see a legend for this town, population now about 1,200.
"For very serious ghost hunters, don’t laugh because I get this all the time, they will want to bring a film camera to capture the 'orbs', said Rose Szwed, owner of Step On The Bus Tours. "I can forthrightly say that there are spirits of dancers from what we think are the 1700s on the banks of the Mendon River.” Also, if you plan to use a tape record to capture EVPs, electric voice phenomenon, use a brand new tape. Finally, be sure to wear flat-soled shoes.”
This is the first time that this particular tour is being offered. Regular tours include Underground Railroad and Arts, Amish & Adventures. Contact Szwed: 248-459-0125 for more information, or go to http://steponbustours.com/2239.html.
And, lastly, yes, I bet you're wondering: Just how did the town get its name? One story has it that when town founders set about naming it, one pulled out a dictionary, randomly opened it and pointed to a word. And because the nearby St. Joseph River's twists supposedly reminded the namers of a, yup, colon, that's what was chosen. Then again, that story could be just "magical thinking."