Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Lincoln’s 150th

Posted: April 15, 2015 in Uncategorized

Since we commemmorate the 150th anniversary of the assassination od Abraham Lincoln yesterday, let’s look at some of the famous White House residents who still come to call at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.”

Abigail Adams

When Abigail Adams and her husband, John (the second president, 1797-1801), moved to the newly built White House, Washington D.C. was just a swampy little town. Abigail used to hang the wet laundry to dry in the East Room because it was the warmest and driest part of the White House.

Her ghost, still clad in a cap and a lace shawl, has been seen, arms outstretched as though carrying a laundry basket, heading toward the East Room.

These are not fly-by-night accounts; it was President William Taft who first saw the first lady’s ghost floating through doors on the second floor, as though taking the laundry to hang up to dry.

There were quite a few sightings during the Taft years, but some tourists reportedly saw her as recently as 2002. (Lincoln has also been seen in the East Room; it’s where his body lay in state after he was assassinated

Andrew Jackson

The Rose Bedroom was President Andrew Jackson’s bedroom, and many White House employees claim to have seen or heard the former president in this room; they say he is either laughing heartily or swearing heavily. First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln is among those who heard him cursing in the room
The first person to report seeing Lincoln’s ghost was First Lady Grace Coolidge, who lived in the White House in the 1920s. She reportedly saw him standing at a window in the Oval Office, looking across the Potomac to what had once been Civil War battlefields.

Abraham Lincoln

A well-known Lincoln ghost story was reported by 20th-century British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who was a guest at the White House. After a long bath, and naked except for a cigar, he walked into the adjoining bedroom — and there was Lincoln at the fireplace. Churchill said, “Good evening, Mr. President. You seem to have me at a disadvantage.” He reported that Lincoln smiled softly and then disappeared. Churchill refused to sleep in that bedroom after that encounter.

The first person to report seeing Lincoln’s ghost was First Lady Grace Coolidge, who lived in the White House in the 1920s. She reportedly saw him standing at a window in the Oval Office, looking across the Potomac to what had once been Civil War battlefields.

We have had sightings of past presidents on the OFFICIAL Ybor Ghost Tour…past presidents of the Cuban Club, that is.

YBOR HAUNTED SITE DISAPPEARS!

Posted: March 23, 2015 in Uncategorized

The local paper says Ybor City is set to BOOM! New hotels, new apartments, all sorts of things going on. But change cuts both ways and we are saddened to inform you that The Don Vicente Ybor Inn has been sold.

You know the building – the magnificent restored INN on 9th Ave, just across the street from Mr. Ybor’s Cigar Factory. And if you know it, you also know it is one of the most haunted sites in Ybor City. For over four years The OFFICIAL Ybor Ghost Tour has been introducing seekers to the hidden secrets of the building – the morgue downstairs, which a prominent psychic said was “overflowing with spirits” and the story of Dr. Avellanal, whose frightful experiments changed the course of Ybor City Paranormal life. These and many other stories make the Don Vicente Ybor Inn  a special place for ghost hunters.

But after May 31, the building will no longer be accessible. The new owners currently have plans to convert the basement morgu to office space. Imagine the unsuspecting accountant who sets up shop there.

So this is a call to action. If you have visited the Inn on one of our tours and have been meaning to go again, do not hesitate. If you never have visited but want to – do not delay! Our calendar already shows many evenings between now and May 31 when access to the Inn is not available. Seekers of the paranormal are not the only ones trying to squeeze in last minute visits!

Go to our calendar at http://www.yborghosttour.com and book your visit to the Inn, while there is still time. Once it is gone, regrettably, it will be gone forever.

The Haunted City

Posted: February 19, 2015 in Uncategorized

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Ybor City is haunted. Specific buildings are haunted. But I think there is evidence that many…if not all the buildings of the old ‘Latin Quarter’ are sites rich in paranormal activity. As a resident of nearly twenty-five years and as a ‘paranormal enthusiast’, often in those early days I would walk into small shops owned by Cuban or Spanish or Italian families and introduce myself. “Hi…I live here in the neighborhood. By the way, does anything ‘weird’ ever happen in your shop?” Usually the wife would say, “We have a guy who roams around late at night and…”…then the husband would say “NO! Don’t talk about that!” Why? Because they thought it was bad ‘juju’…bad luck…because they thought something bad might happen…or, you may not come into their establishment. But today, many years later, one has to be concerned that ‘hauntedness’ is being used as a marketing tool…”Oh yes, we have a ghost. Come on in!” (see the blog “Everyone Wants To Get Into The Act”).
I know of a many haunted sites in Ybor City. Along 7th Avenue, the central promenade of our old historic district, there is building after building which carries with them ghost stories. Restaurants, clothing stores and bars, many of which have multiple accounts of ghostly encounters. There are owners or employees, past and present, who have seen or felt the remnants of the dead. Why would there be so many hauntings? History? Certainly many have died here.
But…here’s one theory for you to consider. When I came here one of the first residents I met was an elder cubano named Raphael. His family was rooted in the craft of cigar making. His grandfather had come to Ybor City not long after Vicente Martinez Ybor founded his cigar manufacturing city. I often found Raphael parked on a wrought iron bench, resting in the warm Florida sunshine. I would sit with him and we would talk. Mostly, I would listen. He spoke of the city in magical ways. He was an observer of the ‘unseen’ and was the first person that made me aware of the old village’s ghostly stories.
One day he said to me…” You know, in the old days communities and cities often formed in an area for reasons that not even it’s inhabitants understood. Oh yes, it might seem obvious…a river or a railroad. But it might be that they were attracted to something they ‘felt’. It was such with Ybor City!” He had my curiosity now. “How?” I asked.
“This area is ‘special’. There is a ‘vortex’ here. A place where energy collects in a very unusual way. There were two separate natural aquifers here, where drinkable water just flowed out of the ground. It’s part of the reason that Ybor settled here. The vortex is in the center, and it fans outward like a small but powerful hurricane.”
He then said something that I cannot forget. “And these kinds of vortexes ‘attract’ energy…and people to them. And when they die…some of them…cannot resist it’s pull…and they REMAIN!”
And so I wonder sometimes, could Raphael…now long gone himself…be correct? Could it be that the level of paranormal activity here in Ybor City is, in part, because this is a special place with a mysterious influence on the surface of our planet?
Could it be that ‘where’ an entity attaches is as important as ‘why’? It’s something to consider.

Stories of a ghostly President Lincoln wandering the corridors and rooms of the White House persist, but are not officially acknowledged. The gangly prairie lawyer with the black stovepipe hat and the long, sad face was the kind of man around whom legends naturally collect. If one were to believe in ghosts, one would have to believe that the benevolent spirit of Abraham Lincoln, our greatest president, still watches over the nation he fought so gallantly to preserve.

Liz Carpenter, press secretary to Lady Bird Johnson, told author John Alexander that Mrs. Johnson believed she’d felt Lincoln’s presence one spring evening while watching a television program about his death. She noticed a plaque she’d never seen before hanging over the fireplace. It mentioned Lincoln’s importance in that room in some way. Mrs Johnson admitted feeling a strange coldness and a decided sense of unease. This disquieting apprehension has been felt by others. Grace Coolidge, wife of Calvin Coolidge, the thirtieth president, was the first person to report having actually seen the ghost of Abraham Lincoln. She said he stood at a window of the Oval Office, hands clasped behind his back, gazing out over the Potomac, perhaps still seeing the bloody battlefields beyond.

The ghost of Lincoln was seen frequently during the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt, when the country went through a devastating depression then a world war. When Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands was a guest at the White House during that period she was awakened one night by a knock on her bedroom door. Thinking it might be an important message, she got up and opened the door. The top-hatted figure of President Lincoln stood in the hallway. The queen fainted. When she came to she was lying on the floor. The apparition had vanished.

On one occasion, Mrs. Roosevelt’s secretary, Mary Eben, encountered Lincoln’s ghost sitting on the bed in the northwest bedroom. He was pulling on his boots, as if in a hurry to go somewhere. The startled young woman screamed and ran from the second floor. Other staffers of that era said they’d seen Lincoln lying quietly on his bed of an afternoon.

There was a time when Having a resident ghost at your establishment in Ybor City was a quietly whispered secret. Best not to stir things up, the prevailinig logic went, might affect business.

Today, ghosts have become big business and accordingly, they are coming out of the closet everywhere. If a business in Ybor City doesn’t have a haunting, they might just invent one to stay up with the trends.

The OFFICIAL Ybor City Ghost Tour is fortunate that we don’t have to shake would-be spirits out of the rafters, so to speak. On a nightly basis we visit the two most well-established haunted sites in Ybor, the Cuban Club and the Don Vicente Inn. The amount of paranormal activity that we have experienced in these two sites could practically fill a book, and you can get a feel for some of that by visiting our Facebook page. These occurences, and our outstanding guides, have earned us the distinction of being named the Number 1 Ghost Tour in the U.S.

But things are changing in Ybor City. A new hotel is scheduled along 7th Ave and there is talk of new uses for some old historic buildings. It is conceivable now, for the first time, that a day may come when access to some of these extraordinary sites might be restricted.

But that is for the future. For now, at least, we still have exclusive access to these two amazing sites. So why not take advantage while the opportunity is still here. Join us for one of our nightly tours soon. Or one day you might end up chasing fake ghosts around town.

Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Posted: January 8, 2015 in Uncategorized

NHIE Guys

A few weeks back, we participated in an Ybor City ghost tour. We know what you’re thinking- December seems like a weird time to go ghost hunting in Ybor right? Well, when we looked into it during October, tours were all booked up (checking into it on September 29th probably wasn’t the best idea). None the less, we decided we could always search for the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future; but mostly just past.

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After talking to a friend about a ghost tour she had done in downtown Tampa, I was super amped on finding one to do in Ybor given all the amazing history of the area. I reached out to Lonnie of The Official Ybor City Ghost Tour and he let me know tours were open for December, so we promptly scheduled our tour for mid December. Nicholas, Ryan, two friends and I headed over to King Corona where we…

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The Tug Boat Captain

Posted: September 14, 2014 in Uncategorized

Ghost tours and paranormal investigations can cause participants to respond in very interesting ways. If they come to the moment as non-believers or if they are essentially unfamiliar with the subject matter, they may become unexpectedly excited as new ‘converts’. Some even become a little scared. Or some become excited in a way that is a surprise to themselves as well as to those around them. Others seem almost complacent, because they ‘already know’. Some reveal emotions that are normally kept close to the self. And some become very open, wanting to share their own personal experiences. Such is the case in this next story.

On a recent tour we hosted a private corporate group. They were engaged, attentive, polite and excited in anticipation of an enlightening and entertaining evening. As the tour began we walked and I shared some of what I call the ‘creme dela creme’ ghost stories of the city. The first place 0n our tour attendees get to sit is in the basement morgue of a former old hospital. There I introduce the guests to the entities of the old hospital and to the ghost stories that are attached to them. After, we mount a group investigation.
It is usually right in this moment…(the first moment in which guests can approach me one on one), that a person will decide to share some personal ghost story. And these are always amazing stories for me because they are shared in the spirit of a kind of ‘knowing’…no attention seeking, little or no ego…just a genuine desire to say to another in confidence, “Oh yes…I know this is real. It happened to me.”
On this night, as soon as the group scattered to begin investigating, a man named Tim approached me. Tim looked like he was in his early forties, thin in stature with thick blonde hair. He possessed a clean, neat look…though dressed down, his neat, coiffed appearance belied that of a professional business man in casual clothes. Up to this moment, he had seemed somewhat reserved, rarely registering any emotion on his face during the early portion of the tour. He said,
“I know all of this to be true.”
I was slightly surprised. I wasn’t sure if he had some special insight. Maybe he was going to reveal himself to be a medium. He said “My older brother died many years ago. He was a tug boat captain in Galveston. He had been a captain his entire life. No matter where he went, no matter how much he scrubbed himself and bathed, he always had the smell of that port on him…the smell of seaweed and salt water. It’s a distinct smell, do ya know what I mean?”
“Yes” I said. “I think I know what you mean.”
He continued. “One night, ten years after my brother had died, I was in bed asleep. My house was on the other side of Galveston, away from the port. I awoke to that smell…it was strong in my bedroom. I sat up in bed and there at the foot of my bed was my brother. I could see him as I see you now. He said ‘Go to Mom’s house…NOW!’ I didn’t question the experience I was having. I knew it was real. I grabbed a robe and left immediately. My mother lived four miles away. It was about one AM. I had called on the phone. There was no answer…and this concerned me. I pounded on the door. No response. I was so freaked out, I kicked the door in. There nearby, my mother lay at the bottom of the stairs. She had fallen down the long flight of stairs. I called 911 and EMS arrived very quickly. They took her to the hospital, and all though she was injured, she survived. She lived for many years after that night”.
All I could say was “Wow. Amazing”. He smiled.
He said “But, there’s more. I talked with the attending doctor later that morning. He said ‘It’s a good thing you went to see your mother at that time. If she had laid at the bottom of those steps for another hour or so, she certainly would not have made it. You saved her life’. I didn’t say to the doctor what I was thinking. It was my brother who saved my mother’s life. It was a ghost who saved her! Don’t tell me they don’t exist”.
I responded “I understand. And…yes, they do”.

A Wild Ride

Posted: May 15, 2014 in Uncategorized
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imageWell, I’m back in the blogosphere after a lengthy hiatus. The last two years on the Official Ybor Ghost Tour have been a wild ride. We have been recently rated among the top thirteen ghost tours in America by US City Traveler as #1. Locally in Tampa we were chosen by Tampa Bay Magazine as the #1 ghost tour in the Tampa Bay area. We appreciate these accolades and we appreciate the support of our guests and followers. I suppose you gain this kind of attention through hard work and commitment to try and achieve something special. Which leads me to this conclusion, which I think followers of ghost tours and the paranormal might find noteworthy:

There are varied kinds of ghost tours across the country. I have been on many. They differ and often each has something to recommend them. Some are entertaining parties that have costumed guides who are more prone to being ‘scary’ than being serious investigations of the paranormal. Some are even thinly disguised ‘pub crawls’. Some are very strong on local history. Some are so serious as investigations that they become almost ‘academic’ courses in the world of spirit. And for participants this variety may offer something more suited to each depending on their goal for the evening. We have attempted to create a balance of history, stories and investigations of interior sites that are truly haunted.

All of this leads me to a simple conclusion about a not so simple enterprise. In order for ghost tours to succeed and continue so that guides can be paid for their efforts and skill, to remain sustainable and for the tour to survive as a business and therefore as a ‘product’…and that guests who are not deeply into the paranormal, who are simply looking for an enjoyable experience and a ‘good time’ …and as well has the kind of content and credibility that more serious devotees can appreciate…requires that you must be honest and respectful with the subject matter. In short, do what you love and make sure it’s something you believe in and the rest will follow. For those of us who are guides on the Official Ybor Ghost Tour, a flood of amazing experiences have been occurring over the last several years. Guests having powerful feelings and experiences. Photo captures of not only orbs and ‘energy forms’…but even full body apparitions inside buildings. Phone batteries draining. Camera batteries draining. The list goes on. (More on these experiences forthcoming in future posts). On a recent tour as we investigated the lobby floor of the old Cuban Club with EMF meters buzzing and guests capturing strange images, a woman in the group turned to me and said, “You have an interesting job!” I responded “Yes…you have no idea”.

 

The Gasparilla International Film Festival is Tampa Bay’s largest independent film festival and was established in 2006. It has grown since then. Today it is taking it’s place among major film festivals around the country. This year’s 2012 offering showcased over 100 films made up of features, shorts and documentaries. Filmmakers, actors and celebrities traveled to Tampa to celebrate the art of film here and around the world. Among those attending were film impresarios The Booth Brothers. They were here to screen their new film “Children of the Grave 2” at Muvico Theater in Ybor City. Their creative film contributions on the SyFy Channel are, I believe, the best work being done on that network today. Because of my ghost tour here they contacted me and we had a chance to meet. They invited me to the screening and then to the ‘after party’. At the end of the screening there was a Q&A session in which Christopher and Phillip were open, honest and gracious. They shared insights into the effort required to make a project like this happen. They answered questions about film and the paranormal. Moreover, they shared their real feelings about these subjects and I found this refreshing. I had an opportunity to chat a little more with Phillip than Christopher and found him to be a kindred spirit of sorts. My sense was that they are both loving the ride and loving the work and are dedicated to their art. The experience from first to last was a treat.

I use the word ‘impresarios’ because ‘filmmakers’ isn’t quite adequate. They are gifted cinematographers who write, direct and produce. They are ghost investigators…researchers. They are story tellers. They are artists who are helping their audience see something they have never seen before. They are using their medium to make connections for their audience between the heart and the spirit. They do not use the approach so many ghost hunting reality shows use, to endlessly shift the camera in some dark, excited drama using night vision cameras as though we are on a spook house ride. Or to treat the subject like some midway sideshow. Instead, they create a sense of humanity in the process of revealing the story and the evidence obtained.

I see this so clearly because they are doing, on a far more sophisticated level using an entirely different medium, something not so far afoot from what I do here on my tours. I and my guests do some investigating, recording and photographing…but most of what I do is storytelling in which I attempt to acquaint my tour participants with the ghosts themselves, with their stories and maybe with their attachments and why they remain. I attempt to connect my participants with the human condition of these individuals who have become ghosts. In doing so I hope to touch something deep. The Booth Brothers are artists using a different medium to invoke the art of storytelling in which I believe they too wish to touch something deep.

And how do they do this? First, they use historical documentation in the form of old newspaper articles and photographs to inform us and to give the sense that we too are involved in discovering this history. We come to see a credible ‘past’ in each story. Secondly, recreations of events are done with a sense of accuracy and with an attention to detail but never without a stylistic flow that draws the eye in. I am a fan of cinematography and their work here, framed scene after framed scene is beautifully rendered. This illustration is done in camera with effects but not with CGI (computer generated imagery). Third, with each investigation comes finally an effort to ‘assist’ the entities toward some resolve…to give some guidance to their ‘moving on’. This part is in some ways the most chilling and the most inspiring. It is here where we as the audience make the connection that what we call ghosts are disembodied conscious beings who have some aspect of ego still intact and can be helped to move forward. They do not ‘have to’ choose to remain here. It is affective and inspiring and very different than anything else being done in reality ghost hunting shows. In fact, I believe the Booth Brothers have made a step out of the genre (which frankly is saturated) into a creative place where they have the opportunity to investigate something beyond simple ghost hunting. They are working to take us to the next level. They too, like all ghost investigators, use elaborate technology. It’s now ‘stock in trade’ for the process of any investigation. But technology is cold as is the word ‘paranormal”. The Booth Brothers use both sparingly in ‘Children of the Grave 2’. This film does not portray ghosts being ‘hunted’. It is not the science of the paranormal being objectively applied to investigations. It is rather a rich, film exploration of something more universal than the paranormal…it touches upon the supernatural. And in doing so it touches our spirit.

They Are Us

Posted: March 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

Out of a need for the security offered by certainty, every civilization, every major group has needed to believe that they were right and they knew basically all there is to know. The truth likely is that what we now know about our world and the Universe, both in matters of science and the spirit as well, is tiny compared to what can be known. It is only questioning and consciousness that creates our ‘path’. All else will fail us.

image by Alejandro Jodorowsky

Quantum physicists now tell us there are eleven dimensions of existence. Varying religious practices and metaphysics have inferred that there are even more. What realities exist in these dimensions and how do they intersect or overlap with our own? It might be reasonable to assume that this is where we as energetic beings go after death or even in between physical lives. Through my investigations of anecdotal evidence and of those documented experiences by many in the realms we call religious, supernatural and paranormal…I have come to believe that within these dimensions exist ‘beings’ or consciousness who are not ‘from’ this world. Entities that have been described as demons or angels, shadow figures and even extraterrestrials. But ghosts are not these. They are us. Humans who have not made the complete journey. They are ‘in between’ here…and there. Possibly trapped by some phenomenon we as yet do not understand. Or more likely they have made the conscious decision to remain. And why? Well, it may be for all the same reasons that we as people make various decisions to stay or go, to remain in a dysfunctional marriage or a bad job. It could be because of an unresolved conflict or possessive attachment or jealousy or love. Have you ever returned to a high school reunion 10, 20 years or more and found that there are some classmates who simply never ‘move on’? As though growth and maturation seemed to pass them by? Could it be that there are some of us as spiritual beings who do the same?

There are paranormal researchers who postulate that one explanation of ghosts may be as energetic impressions that are left on our physical environment, like a finger print or maybe more like a recorded tape loop that plays over and over again. This could be but it seems to me to be less likely. Electronic voice phenomenon (EVP) and recounted stories seem to indicate that consciousness is involved. At some level, ghosts know who they are and some aspect of ego is still functioning. Consciousness is a tricky thing. It is a powerful thing…maybe the most powerful thing in the universe. You can use it to free yourself from the reality you have created here in your life. Or…you can use it to create a reality here even after physical life has ceased.