There is something about autumn that lends an air of mystery to our otherwise predictable days. Perhaps it's the change in leaves, the crisp air and the graying skies or maybe it's the anticipation of Halloween that excites us. Starting October 1st, (and probably before that) many are out scrambling for the perfect decorations that will let everyone know they are a true lover of this most sinister holiday. Our doorsteps become adorned in cobwebs and ghostly figures, pumpkins and bats are in high supply. Any other time of year we would shoo away anything that didn't belong, but Halloween allows us all to be bad. Horror movies on TV are plentiful and make-shift haunted houses feed our need for fright, but there are others still who yearn for something more.
And so enters the realm of the paranormal. Now granted, there is no shortage of skepticism in this department and those who seek it understand this. So whether or not you're a believer, central New York has plenty of haunts for brave souls.
The people who call the paranormal their “work” are at it 365 days a year, but you can bet when Halloween rolls around their workload increases. One local group called CNY Ghost Hunters offers a tour of some of central New York's most haunted establishments. Their work is serious and has been met with some recent notoriety for their discovery of an Electronic Voice Recording or EVP recorded in a historic upstate New York hotel which is said to be haunted. The recording (which may be inapropriate for sensitive listeners) is said to be one of the most frightening ever captured and is what founder Stacey Jones describes as "an [unknown] woman say(ing), 'Get off me,' and what sounds like the woman being attacked. The struggle continues for awhile...". Their findings led to an appearance on the Discovery Channel show A Haunting.
To read more on EVP recordings and learn how to do it yourself, you can visit about.com.
If that's a little too intense, the Landmark Theater is said to be haunted by an apparition known as the "lady in white" who supposedly lingers in the balcony. According to the story, a woman named "Clarissa" was attending an event s at the theater back in the 1930's when she fell over the ledge of the balcony and died. This is where the story gets cloudy. Some say Clarissa, or “Claire” as she is also known, fell over the balcony when she was witness to her lover's electricution on the stage below. Still others say Clarissa was an envious actress who jumped off the balcony when she wasn't chosen for a part. In any case her precence is said to be felt most when theater rules are broken or when someone just plain annoys her.
Another place of fable is Cedervale road, or otherwise known as "13 curves" located in Onondaga Hill. Legend has it a newly married couple had been killed in an auto accident about 70 years ago while driving through the treacherous curves. To this day it is said that a woman in a flowing white gown can be seen walking through the woods looking for her bridegroom. A recent blog in the Post Standard inspires thrill seekers to test the roads themselves for the ghostly lady and shares some frightening stories others have experienced.
The city of Syracuse has even expressed an interest with their own haunting tale. In an early press release they announce the story of a ghost which haunts City Hall. According to one worker, the ghost would become mischievious after hours, often by playing in the elevator and walking up and down the staircase.
Long before being built, a militant colonial homestead was located on the property. According to lore, Native America Indians infiltrated the homestead carrying torches and located some stored munitions. The fire from their torches ignigted the powder stored there blowing the structure to smithereens. The spirits of the Indians are said to occupy the water now running throughout the castle, fitting a longheld belief that water is a carrier for their souls.
Within the castle walls people have reported an ominous feeling. Since the time the castle was built in 1860, a few people of note had died and are said to roam its halls. According to its collection of ghost stories “the ghost of Mr. Beardslee walks the grounds holding a lantern with a blue light, searching for a lost child who had either drowned in a pond or pool or had been hit by an oncoming train. Many reported seeing the light of the lantern. A grand-daughter of Pop Christensen has reported seeing the lantern floating on its own behind the building”.
If you're particularly gustsy, visit the family's mausoleum at the edge of Beardslee City. Back in the 60's the crypt was a popular hangout and at the time there were reports of strange lights and voices that seem to permiate from the mausoleum. Day or night, this hauntingly gothic castle seems to embody everything needed for a perfect ghost hunt.
So, whether or not you're a seeker of the paranormal or just a seasonal enthusiast, the rich history of central New York has plenty to offer the intrigued who are looking to test their mettle. For those who are more traditional, this site provides a list of Halloween parties and events happening in your area. Happy hunting!