I can't quite explain why, but the Halloween season is a bittersweet time for me. I love it; it's my favorite time of the year. But at the same time, I get really depressed as well. Part of it is hiraeth---an obscure word meaning homesickness for a time or place that no longer exists. I can never go back to the magic of the Halloween from my childhood. It's also partly FOMO-the fear of missing out on all the awesome NEW activities that are out there, that I just don't have the time or the energy to fit in.
I've been a little mopey the past several of weeks thinking about all the things I didn't get to do this year. I didn't carve pumpkins for the first time in my entire life. I didn't decorate the new apartment. I didn't visit a haunted house/trail. Oh, and I only watched about a third of the Halloween movies I usually I watch each year. Today, however, I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself, and take a look back on the wonderful things I DID get to experience this year, including a couple of bucket-list items for me. Let's start with some of the activities I did with my group, Spectral Research and Investigations!
|Brian dressed up at ready|
to receive trick-or-treaters!
2023 was the start of our (hopefully!) annual Safe Trick-or-Treat, held at the Museum of Radio and Technology in Huntington. In the three hours we were open, we had well over 220 people come through the museum, where they were greeted by costumed members of the SRI team. We loaded them up on candy and non-food treats (we even had to make a store run halfway through!), and let them play games, participate in Halloween crafts, and of course, explore the museum itself. It was a wonderful way for us to give back to our community and introduce the museum to many new faces. Almost everyone we talked to either didn't realize the museum was even there, or had never had the opportunity to stop by. It was so awesome to see entire families dressed up and having a great time. Plans are already underway to make 2024 an even bigger event!
Another community outreach service SRI offered this Halloween season was donating our services to the Cabell County Library's Halloween Gala. After the gala had concluded for the evening, SRI members led small groups of gala participants around the main branch library in search of ghosts, giving them a little history of the building's alleged haunts, and showing them how to use popular ghost hunting tech. We had done something similar last year, offering two separate public hunts of the main branch and the Gallaher Village area. Those events were so much fun and went so well that we were honored to be asked to return again this year to help raise funds for the library system.
|The SRI team and the Uncovering|
History team in front of the Lowe Hotel
The last big project that SRI worked on in October was a two-day on-location film shoot with the crew from Uncovering History! We joined the guys in Point Pleasant in search of the Mothman, starting with an investigation of the haunted and historic Lowe Hotel, and wrapping up with a wild romp through the TNT area. We did a little of our own filming as well, so I'll be sure to share when each of our videos premiers. We had a blast and got along so well with the crew that we've been asked to lend a hand on further adventures...more on that coming up soon!
Amidst all that chaos, I managed to work in some personal adventures as well, starting with attending MystiCon at the Ravenswood Public Library. MystiCon is an annual all-things spooky and Halloween event, offering guest speakers, vendors, and all kinds of other cool activities to get you in the mood for the season. I've already blogged about it (MystiCon blog) so I won't babble on, other than to say that this is a REALLY well put together event with some great speakers, and I look forward to hopefully vending next year.
My husband, who is trying to make a solid effort to join me on more of my spooky pursuits tagged along to MystiCon and had a great time. He didn't, however, care too much for another event I dragged him along to....
Okay, so ever since I saw the Halloween episode of King of the Hill with the Hallelujah House, I've wanted to experience that for myself. The problem was, I could never find a Hell House or Judgement House close by. This year, I started my search early, and found that Memorial Baptist Church in Beckley was offering a Judgement House AND it had a Sunday date that I could work into my schedule! It was quite the experience. The place was packed, and that poor staff was trying their best to move the huge number of guests through as efficiently as possible, which meant that each 'scene' involved us being stuffed butt to gut with about 20 other people into a small viewing area. We got super up close and personal with our fellow patrons as we moved through the story line of a family just discovering church....only to be gunned down in a home invasion.
It seems we were the only ones who were there ironically, lol. I won't get into the subject of religion other than to state that I wholly disagree with the message that was being preached. But, we watched as the mother went off to Heaven, while the father went off to Hell, which was the coolest scene in the whole production. Afterwards, we had to sit in a room with a preacher for an additional 30 minutes, not unlike a timeshare presentation. I was disappointed that this was not one of those Hell Houses that were really wild and gruesome in its coverage of multiple sins. It was fairly tame with one message at hand and one story line. Still, we remained absolutely respectful and left there knowing that we were surely going to Hell.
|Kenova Pumpkin House|
The other bucket-list item I checked off for 2023 was my first visit to the Kenova Pumpkin House! I'll be dedicating a whole blog to this one, but the Pumpkin House is a internationally-known attraction, with thousands of carved and lit pumpkins on display. We went on Halloween night, and surprisingly, found a good parking spot. It was crowded, but not overwhelming, and plenty of food trucks and vendors were set up along the street to enhance the experience of seeing more jack-o-lanterns in one place than I'd ever seen before. It was kinda funny, though...the weather had been downright HOT that week, then wet, so there was quite a bit of visible mold on most of the pumpkins, which actually somewhat added to the Halloween atmosphere, lol.
Sadly, I have yet to bring back my own Halloween party, but I went to the St. Albans Paranormal Discussion Group's end of the year Halloween bash, and it was awesome! Games, costumes, prizes, good food and great friends were just what I needed to cheer me up. Ron Lanham of Wild and Weird made a little alien body cake that we all devoured, my team dominated Paranormal Trivia, and Denise Cyrus from the St. Albans Historical Society gave our group a special haunted walking tour of the town. Angie Breeden, who started the group with a young man named Barry, has done an excellent job with this group, and if you're interested in the paranormal at all, I'd highly suggest you follow on Facebook for updates! Meetings will resume in January 2024 and are held on the last Wednesday of the month at the St. Albans Historical Society.
|Move over, Jaimie!|
This alien was delicious
One last thing my husband joined me for was a Ghost Hunting 101 class with Tracey Perry. I attended Tracey's class last year as well, and both times have lucked out; I've walked away with the door prize! Last year I won a nice video camera, and this year I (well, my husband actually won, but....) walked away with a little ghost hunting kit. It was a nice presentation, and I'm always interested to see how other teams out there are operating, and I'm always willing to support my fellow investigators. I wrote about my experience last year HERE.
Looking back over this super long list of things I did, I realize that I need to stop moping around! I did a LOT of cool things this Halloween season, and made some lasting memories with friends and family. I only hope that Halloween 2024 is as awesome as this year was.