ABOUT AL CHEWNING
Al is a native Virginian and has lived in Virginia Beach since he was six weeks old. In 2003, after twenty seven years in the Virginia Beach Fire Department, Al started Histories and Haunts, L.L.C. as a way to share his love of history and his interest in the paranormal.
First came Ghosts of Virginia Beach, the city's original ghost walk, at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront. As a friendly "scaryteller" he has entertained audiences of all ages with stories of the city’s historic beginnings and of the spirits who seem to linger on here.
Al's research piqued his curiosity into how these stories came about. For centuries, cultures from all around the globe have been telling ghost stories. With the information he collected Al designed a power point program called "Paranormal for the Normal" to explain this fascination with an after life.
Drawing from nine years experience presenting American Civil War living history for the National Park Service, in 2007 Al created a unique, first person educational experience that brings living history into the classroom. This program is "The Life of a Civil War Soldier". In 2012 Al added a new program that portrays the “Golden Age of Piracy", the years from 1680 to 1730, as it relates to Colonial America. In his personas Al uses museum quality reproduction items to enhance his presentations. Both of these programs can be useful in fulfilling several Virginia SOLS in American History.
In addition, Al has written five books about local history. The first,The Approaching Storm: U-Boats off the Virginia Coast During WW II, was published in 1994 and is now out of print. His second book,Virginia Beach in Vintage Postcards was published in 2004. Haunted Virginia Beach was next, released in 2006 and is in it's 5th printing. That was followed by Virginia Beach Shipwrecks in 2008. The fifth book, Shipwrecks of Virginia was released October 17, 2022.
Al has presented his programs for the National Park Service, The Virginia State Parks and for numerous museums, schools and community groups. He has lectured at the Calvert Marine Museum in Maryland and the National Geographic Museum in Washington, DC. For 20 years he served on the Advisory Board of the Old Coast Guard Station Museum and currently serves as President of the Princess Anne County/Virginia Beach Historical Society. Al is listed in the National Registry of Living Historians and is a member of the National Living History Association, the Virginia Storytellers' Alliance, Preservation Virginia, and the American Battlefield Trust.
Haunted Virginia Beach is a perfect companion book; "In a collection of sixteen stories gleaned from newspapers and personal interviews, Chewning sheds an eerie light on the prosperous tourist hot spot that is welcoming by day, otherworldly by night."