Majestic ghost tales inspire investigation

Majestic ghost tales inspire investigation
March 9, 2009
Chillicothe Gazette

The Majestic Theatre is a breeding ground of ghost stories, making it a popular stop each October for the League of Women Voters ghost walk. Those stories and urban legends attracted Parks Paranormal Research and Investigation to make its rounds late Saturday night.

Group founder Neal Parks has been chomping at the bit for a chance to investigate the theater since his own ghostly encounter in a theater bathroom more than a decade ago. Neal had gone to the restroom and saw a man cleaning the floor, but no water splashed, there was no bucket and the man did not respond to Neal. In the balcony, he watched as the man disappeared through a door.

Kevin Coleman, local history buff who leads the ghost walk, chaperoned the group and provided a little concrete history of the theater. Although Coleman classifies himself as having a healthy skepticism about ghosts, he wanted to help promote the Majestic.

"I do my best to promote local culture, tourism and history," he said.

As the three-hour investigation got underway, the group of 13 bowed their heads as Neal said a prayer of guidance, asking to keep dark forces and presences away during the night. Many in the group had connections to the theater, which was built in 1853 after the fire of 1852 destroyed a fourth of town.

Sara McMain spent time performing at the Majestic for four years and recounted having seen mysterious blood in the boiler room after being locked in there as a prank.

"I've always just kind of had an eerie feeling being here. I never wanted to be alone in the Majestic," she said.

Although some of the eerinees of the theater revolves around the time of Camp Sherman when it was thought the Majestic was used as a temporary morgue, Coleman said the story has been exaggerated. One of those exaggerations was the embalming fluid supposedly was dumped into the alley behind the theatre. Research has shown there was a sewage system in place and was likely where fluids were disposed, Coleman said.

Armed with various pieces of equipment popular in the paranormal investigation field, such as EMF readers that detect electromagnetic fields and dowsing rods once used more to detect underground wells than ghostly energy, and plenty of digital cameras, the group embarked on a journey of the facility.

In some areas, such as the stage and ballroom, the group reported capturing "orbs" in pictures, and they also commented on the dust in the theater after turning off the lights and looking around with their flashlights. While many in the paranormal field look at most orbs as signs of spirits, many times they are dust particles or even backscatter due to the size limitations of the modern compact and ultra-compact cameras.

"I've got two orbs in the shot," Neal explained in the camera room overlooking the theater. "I'll have to zoom in on my computer to determine if it's a dust particle or an actual energy shot."

At the end of the night, among so many people, Neal said he has numerous photos to study and determine if he feels any have truly captured a spirit.

"Everyone had their own experience," Neal said.

The investigation at the Majestic will become part of Neal's second book on the paranormal which he hopes to be finished by the end of the year.
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