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Spirited tours lure soles to downtown Las Vegas

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Ken Lund/Flickr
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The original janitor at the Las Vegas Academy, when it was called Las Vegas High School, is said to haunt the historic campus.

Walking tours of downtown Las Vegas frequently include historic locations like the Mob Museum, the El Cortez, and Las Vegas Academy.

Most visitors take in the architecture or imagine the glory days of Glitter Gulch, but one group looks for the spirits of the dead.

Ghost City Tours woos customers by saying “to feel the energy that our ghosts give off, you have to be in the actual places where the haunting takes place.”

At the Las Vegas Academy — originally Las Vegas High School —  the ghost of the 90-year-old building’s first janitor, Mr. Petre, can be found.

“I myself have experienced some hauntings there while on tour, so that's been exciting,” said Renee Dempsey, a guide with Ghost City Tours who said Mr. Petre is among at least three apparitions at the campus. “There are stories that he still cleans the school. So he's a pretty good ghost to have around.”

Dempsey, who said she has encountered ghosts her entire life, said she had her own unexplained incident at the art deco LVA campus.

“I set them all up to start the tour and then the fire alarm went off,” she said. “And that is a known thing to happen with ghosts.”

One of the LVA spirits is “a 16-year-old boy that hangs out in the school still. And he does schoolboy pranks, and his favorite is pulling the fire alarm and this fire alarm got pulled during my tour,” Dempsey said, adding that “even the fire department was apprehensive about going into the school when they got there.”

Renee Dempsey, tour guide, Ghost City Tours

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Kristen Kidman is the senior producer at KNPR’s State of Nevada and is proud to be from Las Vegas.
Lorraine Blanco Moss is the host of KNPR's award-winning Asian American Pacific Islander podcast, Exit Spring Mountain. She's also a producer for State of Nevada, specializing in food and hospitality, women's issues, and sports. She started at Nevada Public Radio in October 2021.