How long have you been a tour guide?
I’ve been with HGT since autumn of 2019.
Have you ever had a scary experience or seen a ghost while giving a tour?
I think the wildest encounter so far was when one night, as our full group was finishing up on the poltergeist bridge and I was just about to follow the last woman off of it, we all heard a knocking, thumping under the bridge. The woman and I could feel the vibration of it and that stopped us dead in our tracks. Suddenly we both felt as though we were losing our balance like we were on a boat. She turned to me and I said that it wasn’t a floating bridge and shouldn’t be moving. She very colorfully said that she was getting off the bridge and turned back towards the group to step off. At that moment she went tumbling down onto the grassy bank and was so perturbed that I had shoved her that she clambered up and started yelling at me. Others in the group sprang to my defense and insisted I couldn’t have shoved her. They were right. At just the moment she thought she felt my hands pushing her back I had felt the exact same sensation against my own back. I also tumbled forward and was able to catch my fall with my cane. Several of the group saw us both suddenly lunge forward.
I told them all it would be so much easier if poltergeists would just send text messages like the rest of us.
Which story is your favorite one to tell?
So many of the stories that float around Hermann Park have such a sad feeling to them. Good old Hans was the rootin’ tootin’ schnitzel bitchel master of his own destiny (and demise).
You just gotta love Hans!
What is your favorite tour to date? Tell us a bit about what happened to make it your favorite.
It seems like there’s a moment during every tour when I am reminded of how much I adore doing this. At the end of the night, as I’m watching Mercer Fountain slowly disappear in my rear view mirror, I always feel most content after guiding a group that really got into the experience. It doesn’t matter to me if someone comes to be the skeptical stick in the mud for their friends or to try to get a selfie with an apparition, when members of our party really let go and interact with the souls they’re being introduced to – well, isn’t that what these little mix and mingle events are all about? When I go home feeling the satisfaction of knowing folks really enjoyed themselves, that’s my favorite tour experience.
What is the craziest thing you have ever done while on the tour?
Due to statute of limitations I plead the fifth.
How did you come up with the name TheRiot?
Theriot was my grandmother’s maiden name. She died of tongue cancer when I was very young and appeared to me a few months later with a very important message. She was a pragmatist and not known for being extremely joyful. When I put on her name and take guests out for a stroll between our two worlds, I hope that she is able to see the gratitude and joy I have for this life and for the lives that have faded away.
What is your favorite part about being a tour guide?
I get excited about introducing guests to the stories of people who long ago walked along the same paths we explore.
Would you like to tell us anything else about yourself or the tours?
Houston has a robustly rich history and Houston Ghost Tour takes you through slices of it in a way that really brings the dead back to life. I learn new things and gain new perspective every time I take another guide’s tour and have marveled at how Hermann Park has changed for me a little bit every time I guide a tour there.
Guiding through Hermann Park is not for the weak of heart but, to enjoy the tour, you need only bring your open heart. I’ll supply the rest.
See TheRiot’s Ghost Tour by booking the Houston tour.