ALTON - Caleb Lewis with Alton Odyssey Tours discussed the company’s growth and all-new tour lineup for 2023 on an episode of Our Daily Show! on Riverbender.com. This year’s lineup will include the brand-new Prohibition Tour, “Behind the Bricks” Walking Tour, Historical Craft Beer Walk, and more.
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Lewis explained that when he and his fiancé bought the business from his mother, Marlene, he had a vision to expand the company beyond just doing haunted tours as they had before.
“Even during our purchase agreement, I kind of mentioned that I was expecting the haunted business to be one section of our total portfolio moving forward,” Lewis said. “Traditionally, it’s only been a haunted tour business and I wanted to diversify it, so we really brought some new ideas to life.”
This year’s tour lineup reflects that diversification as it dives less into the haunted side of Alton and more into the historical side. After doing some research at the Hayner Public Library, Lewis uncovered just how historically significant Alton and Madison County were during the Prohibition Era.
“Madison County was considered ‘the wettest county in the country’ for arrest records during Prohibition - so there was the most illegal manufacturing and illegal consumption of all other counties in the country - so then of course, Alton falls right into Madison County and as our research continued, we found a lot of very interesting history around that.”
The Prohibition Tour will also feature historical reenactors from Vintage Voices to bring characters from the era to life. The first Prohibition Tour will be on April 22 with 11 Prohibition Tours in total this year. Lewis said tickets will be limited to 21 per tour, and that there is much, much more in store this year as well.
“We’re introducing four new tour ideas this year, so we’ve actually increased our tour offerings by over 300%. We’re also kind of becoming this chameleon company for private tours as well,” Lewis said, adding that they recently did a custom-scripted, private tour for Alton architect Lucas Pfieffenberger’s descendants’ family reunion to visit 22 locations around Alton that he designed.
Lewis said the “Behind the Bricks” Walking Tour is a play off of the popular Haunted Craft Beer Walk, but without the local beer samplings - by contrast, the Historical Craft Beer Walks will feature beer samplings and plenty of interesting Alton history. There will also be family-friendly Alton History Tours via shuttle, and Lewis said they’re selling discounted tickets at $20 for children and $30 for adults. Those tours will visit significant locations around Alton to “bring more families in and try to tell them the story of Alton” in an exciting and engaging way.
Lewis added that there also may be a “Behind the Bricks” podcast on the way in the near future, in addition to several other ideas yet to be announced, and that all of it is meant to “build Alton up.”
“This is really built off of trying to build Alton up as all of us together. We actually have the chance to really point people in the right direction as they come to Alton,” Lewis said. “We’re actually adding on to this list of our partnerships and we’re just kind of always growing. We have new ideas that we haven’t announced yet, because we figured four new ideas and 300% increase for this year is good.
“I think the community is really rallying upon what we’re trying to do, and also we really want to tell this story because there’s a lot of historical significance in Alton that kind of gets overlooked.”
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