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.

ghost14

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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Halloween’s origins likely go back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints and martyrs; the holiday, All Saints’ Day, incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows’ Eve and later Halloween. The holiday has evolved into a secular event with community participation involving children ‘trick or treating’ in costume as well as costume parties for adults…as well as having some implications for various religions including Paganism and various practices such as witchcraft. It’s affect and implication in the world of the paranormal may not yet be fully understood, but it does appear to have an impact on activity. It may be through transference and projection in which the living, in anticipation of ‘contact’ can themselves generate energy that harkens to those entities who populate the ‘in between dimension’.
Ghost tours around the world experience greater numbers during the month of October. Just as the desire for peace, charity and brotherhood exists as an energy more during the Christmas month of December…it might be said that people begin to think more of ghouls, witches, monsters, zombies and, yes…ghosts…in October. In short, ghost tours are usually more attended in the month when ‘things go bump in the night’. But it also means the expectations are higher among guests. And it could be that this changes the very level of activity. It is believed by many paranormal investigators that this might be a time more ‘fruitful’ for contact.
On this particular Halloween we toured nearly ninety people which included a special midnight investigation of the infamous Ybor City Cuban Club…a building renowned for it’s level of paranormal activity, listed by the Travel Channel as one of the top ten most haunted sites in America, investigated by the Syfy Channel’s ‘Ghost Hunters’ in a 2009 episode entitled ‘Club Dead’…and, a building that has in it’s documented history a cast of deceased characters which support some the most interesting and colorful ghost stories ever recorded. One such story concerns a former board of directors member who was shot to death in a fight which broke out during a board meeting. Disgruntled and angry, he is known for, on occasion, scratching unwanted visitors in the building.
He has scratched or left marks on guests before. On Halloween, two guests separated by several hours, were scratched. Let us consider this: one guest received what one might describe as ‘whelps’, three of them…on her back. She stated that she felt a burning sensation along her spine and a heavy nausea just before the whelps appeared. These marks were on her back, a place she could not reach with her hands. They ran long and parallel along her spine and could not be made by ‘rubbing up against’ something. Plus, no one was near. One must deduce from this that unless she can generate her own ‘stigmata’, she was marked by an entity.
What are we to make of this? You may conclude for yourself, but…
it seems that on All Hallow’s Eve, there is a shift in energy, where anything might happen.

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”.

imageWhy might a ghost appear to the naked eye or to be captured on digital or film media? Is it a change in the environment? A momentary hole in the quantum field? A slipping in the phase between dimensions? Some believe that when a ghost is seen by the naked eye, it is because of something different in the energy of the viewer…a shift in their energy being. Often children see apparitions. And young pre-pubescent girls seem to have the front row seat, often sensing and seeing phenomenon no one else does, indicating it could even be something in our biology. I am sure there is some element of truth in all of these suppositions. But still, this would not explain the appearance in photos and videos.
These guesses are all centered on ‘outward’ explanations, based on factors having nothing to do with the entity itself. This seems to miss a major point. Could it be that they ‘want’ to be seen or recorded? One explanation of ghosts is that they are energetic impressions left in physical matter that ‘replays’ itself over and over, like a video tape looped. So therefore objects and buildings are haunted because of ‘something left behind’. And maybe this is true in some cases. But to except this in a blanket way discounts those times when ghosts ‘communicate’ through EVP’s or show some conscious decision making process. Definitely, in the countless ghost stories that have been recorded over time there is often conscious reactive movement.
I believe that consciousness is at work. It seems that there is some aspect of ego still present. Very often ghost’s show up much younger than their actual age at death. It is relatively common for a ghost who died at sixty or seventy years of age to manifest as a thirty year old. There are many ghost stories of a family member who does not recognize their deceased grandma or grandpa because they did not know them as a younger person.

Coincidently, psychological studies indicate that many people who age past forty or fifty, continue to think of themselves as a thirty year old. It is a time when one is no longer viewed as ‘young’ but also not as ‘old’. Many (who as they age) are aware of changes in eye sight or joints or have facial wrinkles, but do not really feel that different than they did at thirty years of age. And…how are you ‘supposed’ to feel as a sixty year old? Could it be that ‘how you see yourself’, is how you show up…as a ghost? This would underscore the idea that ghosts are energistic beings sewn together by consciousness.

And if this is so, then the next question of inquiry that should intrigue each of us, the ‘living’, is…how do these conscious beings see us? What does their view into our dimension look like to them? Particularly since time and space does not exist for them as it does for us. Are they looking through a veil at a world they once understood but now has changed? And…do they know what they have become? It is a deeper question worth pondering.

image by Alejandro Jodorowsky

image by Alejandro Jodorowsky


Sometimes being a tour guide of a ghost tour is like being a sherpa in the high Himalayas…you never know what may happen in that ‘rarefied air’. Your skills must include a command of information and historical facts, story telling, experience and knowledge of paranormal activities/investigations and a deep and sensitive respect for the experiences and feelings of your public guests.

Each tour, (because of the many varied influences offered by guests, the environment and the ‘perceptions’ of the moment), is unique. On one such tour recently, a family was participating comprised of a father, mother, two teenage daughters and a third daughter who was ten years old. In story, I was recounting the actions of an entity who will on occasion ‘flick’ the hair around or touch the ear of guests…but he only does this with females. Men are safe from his trickery. It became apparent that the girls, particularly the ten year old, were emotionally affected, that is to say, obviously uncomfortable. As I became aware, the concerned father, addressing the ten year old, said “Are you ok?” She said “No. I need to leave”. The other two daughters said they would go upstairs with her, away from where we were in the basement area. A public space upstairs, I said they would be safe there. This all happened very quickly. The father, a man relatively conventional in appearance, turned to me and said, “It’s ok. She has ‘the gift'”. I was stopped in my storytelling tracks. I said, “Ok. We need to take a moment and address this!”

He said “I’m a police officer and I don’t believe in what I can’t touch or see…or prove. But my daughters have brought me over. They all are ‘sensitives’. They can see and hear the dead. However, my youngest is different. She has a physical connection and they will sometimes ‘touch’ her. I had a feeling your story was going to affect her”. I could only respond with “Amazing”. Those on the tour were very interested and so, as time allowed, he shared and we all listened intently. He told of events in which his family had been touched by emotions while in contact with deceased loved ones. “We have been on ghost tours around the country” he said. “In an odd way, it has brought us all closer together. It’s something we alone share and understand”. Throughout the rest of the night the girls were in and out…intently involved but at times keeping a distance. When we went into the next haunted site, they remained outside and their parents took turns attending to them.
There may be several lessons we can take away with us concerning the events of that night.
First, a book indeed cannot be judged by it’s cover. I never know as my tour begins who may be a ‘believer’ and who may be not. I have learned that people attend ghost tours for as many reasons as there are individuals. For some it’s a serious paranormal investigation. For others it’s an enjoyable way to learn about history. Others yet it is just entertainment…a way to do ‘something different’ for the evening. Or for some it is a confirmation that we exist after death. And yes, some come hoping for the thrill of being scared. And you will never know by looking at them initially which one it may be until the tour is nearly over. Secondly, the ones who might become scared are usually not the disbelievers, unless they have been ‘converted’ in the course of the evening. More often it might be the ones who have had prior experiences and they really do KNOW that this is real. And thirdly, when a moment arises that is outside of what might be expected…and certainly outside of what might have been planned…sometimes something very rich occurs. And when this happens, (and it happens far more often than you might expect), both the tour guide and the guests must respect what can be revealed in that moment by being sensitive and non-judgemental. These are often the ‘jewels’ of a ghost tour in which the guests become as interesting as the ghosts.

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”.