By CHERIL VERNON
Through the years, the story of “Alice's Adventures in Wonderland” has enticed all ages — first through its 1865 novel by Lewis Carroll and then through various films, television shows and productions.
Now a theatric tour of “Alice in Wonderland” will bring the story of Alice, the rabbit hole and the fantasy world she discovers to life at the Old Anderson County Jail in Palestine starting on Saturday and continuing each weekend in April.
“I grew up loving the 'Alice and Wonderland' story, just like many people have. People of all ages can relate to it. It's not just for kids — it's for everybody,” event organizer Jeremy Janz said. “For me, it's been an experience to create rooms and environments that people can connect with in the story.”
For the tour, visitors will get to see how the historic jail has been turned in to a “Wonderland” with the Madhatter Tea Party in the lobby area and a rabbit hole to explore with the white rabbit on the higher levels of the old jail.
“Our script doesn't follow the storyline 100 percent, but we tried to incorporate literary references, plus we have the costumes themselves,” Janz said. “We transformed the staircase into a rabbit hole.”
Visitors will get to interact with Alice, the white rabbit, the caterpillar, the cheshire cat, the queen, the Madhatter, Tweedledee and Tweedledum.
“We wanted to do this during Dogwood Trails and be part of one of Palestine's largest events that brings entire families to our community,” Janz said. “We wanted to offer something that compliments the other activities, that gives families another place to come see and possibly keep them in the area a little bit longer.”
The Old Anderson County Jail will open to the public from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. this Saturday for the “Alice in Wonderland” theatrical tour. Then in April, the old jail will be open from 6 to 9 p.m. on Fridays and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays.
Admission will be $5 per person. For an additional $5, a 5x7 photo can be taken and printed, if desired.
“While we will take pictures for people, you are welcome to bring your own cameras or take a picture with your cell phone,” Janz said. “When people share their pictures on social media, it helps us get the word out, so it's a win-win for us.”
For those who haven't had a chance to see the inside of the old jail — the tour is like walking through history.
“It's a really unique opportunity because you are submersed into a wonderland and experiencing a literary work that is actually an old jail that has been converted for the tour,” Janz said. “There are still some elements of the oil jail showing. It's a mix — a fusion of arts and the remnants of history. You can't find too many places like this that are ”
In addition, Palestine artist Sheila Galloway's “Vintage Americana” art show is set up in two old jail cells located on the bottom floor of the jail.
“If this is a success, we will keep doing things like this. It's a great way to save a historic piece of property while sharing the history of the building with others by doing these creative theatrical works,” Janz said.
The old jail was most recently used to hold the “Grinch's Lair” event during the Christmas season.
In addition, private Wonderland photo sessions and tours are available by reservation.
“We really want to thank our volunteers. Without them and the community's support, we couldn't do this. We have gotten a lot of positive support,” Janz said. “Hopefully, this will be just the beginning. If someone has an idea of something we could do in the future, we are open to ideas.”
For more information, call 903-373-8158 or visit the Haunted Little Jail on Facebook.