Spend an evening with the dead in Aspen
October 31, 2011
ASPEN – Halloween is a day that celebrates the supernatural with intentionally frightening traditions. One way to celebrate is to spend time in Aspen’s Ute Cemetery and learn about the souls buried there.
Dean Weiler of Aspen Walking Tours is offering the Halloween weekend guided tours to those who are brave and curious. The “Walking with the Dead” tour leads them over and around 210 grave sites, all while telling stories of how many of them ended up there.
The tour, beginning at dusk, is an hour long. Weiler, also an actor, shares historical insight while remaining in the character of a resident of the cemetery.
He said he has always had an interest in history and performed much of the research about the cemetery on his own.
“I followed my own curiosity,” Weiler said. “As I researched stories, I fell in love with the process, and I realized these stories are all connected.”
Weiler, who also performs other themed walking tours around Aspen, led extra cemetery tours in honor of Halloween weekend.
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“It was so interesting,” said Sandy Saks, a Texas resident and frequent Aspen visitor who attended the tour. “It’s an interesting way to learn about the history of Aspen.”
Weiler’s tales are of former Aspenites who perished under unfortunate and spooky circumstances, including avalanches, disease and suicide.
“Cemeteries for me have always been really neat places for contemplation, and I’ve always felt really peaceful in cemeteries,” Weiler said. “You go through cemeteries, and you see these stones, and you always wonder about their stories.”
Weiler said he has somewhat “adopted” the Ute Cemetery, which has deteriorated over the years. Only about 78 of the 210 bodies reportedly buried there have any type of headstone or grave marking, so no one knows the location of some remains.
Weiler said he acts as a voice for those laid to rest in the Ute Cemetery.
“I feel that their stories need to be told more than anybody’s,” he said.
Patrons who went on the tour discussed ghost stories of their own with Weiler, stories that pique his interest. He encouraged those who took pictures to look for orbs of light within the photos, which many believe to represent paranormal activity.
Weiler said that over the years he has learned of more stories about people buried there, many shared by cemetery visitors he met while they paid their respects to their loved ones.
“As I’m in there, more stories come out,” he said “For me, a lot of my tours are being able to talk to people that were here years ago and hearing their stories. That’s what I love.”
Aspen Walking Tours will host a tour at the cemetery beginning at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 31. Those interested in any of the Aspen Walking Tours should visit http://www.aspenwalkingtours.com or call (970) 948-4349.