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An Interview with the DC Metro Area's Premier Tour Guide, Jimmy Meritt

Ghosts, donuts, history, and more!

By Leslie WritesPublished 9 months ago Updated 9 months ago 3 min read
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Photo by FightGuy Photography

Jimmy Meritt is a busy man. By day he manages the Washington DC Historic Donut Tour and by night he tells ghost stories for Alexandria Colonial Tours. As if that weren’t enough, he is also a contributor to the Tall Ship Providence Historical Tour and monthly video blog. I sat down with this charismatic titan of tourism to learn more.

Leslie Writes: How did you first get into tourism?

Jimmy Meritt: I was working as a full-time comedian, traveling on the road, and hitting forty-six states a year. Then as I got older, the travel was getting to me, so I looked for more performance opportunities at home, and a general career shift. After bouncing between a few different jobs, I ended up performing at a dinner theater, where one night a tour guide was in the crowd watching the show. She approached me about the performance and asked if I would be interested in being a ghost tour guide. I had such a good time with it, I completely shifted my career focus. And I’ve been doing it for the last ten years. Being a tour guide scratches the performance itch, but now the crowds come to me instead of me going to them.

LW: So, you were a comedian before you started as a tour guide. Do you work some jokes into your ghost stories?

JM: I think the main thing that comes across from my comedy years into my tour guide performances is the crowd work. I got really used to relating to the audience and finding jokes to bring them into the show, but now I've leveraged that skill into being able to keep the guests engaged in my stories during the tours.

LW: Do you believe in ghosts? Are the stories really scary? Ever made anybody scream aloud or cry?

JM: I do believe in ghosts! And, yeah, a lot of the stories I tell are quite scary. During the Spring Break season, we get a lot of school groups coming in. I'm proud to say, I've gotten many a middle school girl to cry. I am also occasionally tempted to rattle my lantern for a jump scare, which has gotten some good screams.

LW: Alright, lets switch gears here. As a donut tour guide, what is the best donut you ever ate? Please describe it in graphic detail.

JM: Ooh, graphic detail, my favorite. It's hard to choose. A big favorite of mine is a Bomboloni, sold at Piccolina. It's a Brioche donut filled with a flawless pastry cream. Astro Donuts also sometimes does a Mango Passionfruit frosted with white chocolate drizzle and lime sugar sprinkles that is completely divine.

Photo from Astro Doughnuts Instagram

LW: Do you get reviews from people taking your tours? Any you’d care to share?

Review from a customer on Google Reviews

Review from a customer on tripadvisor.com

LW: So Donut Tours in the morning and Ghost Tours at night, huh? Are you burning the candle at both ends? What keeps you going?

JM: Lots of coffee! And just the joy of having a job where I get to walk around outside, interact with a lot of people, and have fun telling stories.

LW: What are your biggest challenges?

JM: Probably my biggest challenges are the things that are out of my control, like poor weather and groups running late when I have tours scheduled back-to-back.

LW: What is the strangest reaction from a customer?

JM: Ooh, I've had so many. I've had gluten free customers show up on donut tours and be disappointed that we couldn't accommodate them. I've had people on ghost tours complain that they didn't believe in ghosts. It's like, what did you buy a ticket for?!?

LW: What have been your proudest moments as a tour guide?

JM: I've been really proud anytime someone has told me that my tour was the most memorable part of their trip. I know there's a lot of stress and pressure when planning a vacation, and although it's just another day at work for me, I know a lot of my customers are saving and looking forward to their vacation all year. I'm glad to be able to make that expectation and excitement pay off!

If you ever find yourself in the Nation’s Capital hungry for donuts, local history, and spooky stories, check out the following links to book a tour and tell them that Jimmy sent ya!

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About the Creator

Leslie Writes

Another struggling millennial. Writing is my creative outlet and stress reliever.

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Comments (4)

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  • Dana Stewart9 months ago

    That review is hilarious! Sell salt to a slug 🤣 I literally want to do the ghost tour while eating a donut. OM gee, I’m a slug!

  • I'd be sure to witness that Tour❤️💯❗ You are a Great Interviewer.

  • Omggg, that review on Good Reviews made me literally Lol! Jimmy is my new religion! 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 I would love to be part of his ghost story tour! I enjoyed this interview!

  • Donna Renee9 months ago

    LOL the lantern jump scare would get me for sure! Jimmy sounds like a really fun person!

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