Post by Joanna on Apr 29, 2016 4:12:17 GMT -5
New York's 'Haunted History Trail'
NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. – One of New York’s newest tourism ventures is more dare than invitation. There’s the usual guide suggesting places to visit: inns, museums, restaurants, a winery. Not so usual are claims all may be inhabited by ghosts. The Haunted History Trail of New York State has been unfurled for anyone who has ever ambled through a “ghost walk,” knows what EVP stands for (electronic voice phenomena), watched Ghost Hunters, Ghost Busters or stayed up late around a Ouija board.
Kelly Rapone, Genesee County’s tourism marketing director, says, “We’re about to become one of your favorite haunts!” promises a region-by-region guide of nearly 70 spooky sites. The trail goes from the Rapids Theater in Niagara Falls, where spirits are said to tamper with musicians’ equipment, to Fort Ontario (above), where the ghost of a drunken officer may roam, to the state capitol in Albany, where a night watchman who died in a 1911 fire reportedly still makes his rounds. “The response that we’ve received has been crazy,” she adds.
It was Rapone’s idea to tap into the public’s ravenous appetite for the paranormal and give the state’s existing “haunted” sites the kind of specialty treatment used to package and promote its golf courses and wineries. After testing the waters with sites in 12 counties in the fall of 2013, the trail now includes stops in around half the state’s 62 counties. During the first four months of this year alone, website visitors requested well over 22,000 guidebooks. That’s almost 10 times the number that went out in the trail’s inaugural year.
No one is promising a sighting or even endorsing the notion that ghosts exist, though most, if not all, the sites have had multiple claims of paranormal activity. “It’s all for fun,” says Rapone, who advises most of the promotion has been done through Facebook and other social media. “You’re either going to be interested in it or you're not ... It’s very niche,” she admits.
Yet it’s hardly a passing fad, according to Carson Mencken, sociology department chairman at Baylor University and an expert on paranormal believers. “Since the dawn of time we’ve been interested in what comes next,” he claims, adding that the economic impact of paranormal themes in entertainment and tourism is “almost too large to calculate.” He cites cities like New Orleans; Salem, Massachusetts, and Charleston, South Carolina, where the paranormal is big business. “It’s only human nature to try to find some empirical evidence that something exists beyond death,” Mencken reasons. “That’s why so many people are interested in ghosts and ghost stories and hunting ghosts.”
Source: Carolyn Thompson, The Hartford Courant, April 28, 2016.