“They ask, ‘Is it like what they show on TV?’ So we have to dispel the myths,” Glazebrook said. “There are tons of paranormal shows, and they are getting weirder and weirder by the minute. Your BS meter starts to go up. Too much is happening.”
Real ghost hunting is not as fast-paced and exciting. At least not for this Hastings-based ghost hunter group. First, its members look for plausible reasons for the experience of the home or business owner. Cold drafts might be just that.
“How well are your windows insulated?” asked investigator Melissa Febus, of Hastings.
The members do historical research to find out if anything traumatic has happened at the site. The actual investigation can be rather plodding. “It’s not like the shows where they go in and there’s a ton of things happening all the time,” said Febus.
They take readings, file reports and often spend a long time analyzing data. “We’re sending e-mails and texts for weeks,” said Glazebrook. They find out later, she said, that some of their best electronic voice phenomena (EVP) readings come when they are talking among themselves as they set up their equipment.
Glazebrook said she was visited by the ghost of her grandmother at age 14 and identifies as “a Sensitive.”
“When we go into an area,” she said, “I can usually tell if there is somebody there besides us.”
She said they conducted one of the group’s most fruitful investigations at the St. James Hotel in Red Wing, an 1875 building long rumored to have paranormal activity. Right after the turn of the century, a man named Charles Lillyblad purchased it and married a hotel employee named Clara, who ran the hotel after his death. At the hotel, people report hearing the ghost of Clara and the voice of a little girl, who is rumored to have drowned in a well in the basement.
“We did make contact with Clara and the little girl,” Glazebrook said. She said that they sensed the presence of a couple of entities in the fifth-floor ballroom, and that EVP readings were off the charts.
She said their dowsing rods started moving toward the center of the room. “We saw something,” she said. “We were communicating with the spirit of a man. We saw this black shadow fly past us.”
At their upcoming library presentations, group members will talk about equipment used for paranormal investigations — various recorders, infrared cameras, and so on — and how they go about interacting with clients.
“Most of the time they are worried,” said Glazebrook. “We get more ‘Please tell me I’m not going crazy.’ ”
The group doesn’t charge for its services, and said people should disregard any group that does charge.
Why do they do it, then?
“For the love of it,” said Glazebrook. “Some people golf, some people garden. It’s like your bowling league.”
Dakota County Paranormal Society presentations will be held on Oct. 23 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the South St. Paul Public Library and Oct. 25 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Hastings’ Pleasant Hill Library.
LeDuc Mansion candlelight tours and Harvest Haunting
It’s a little-known fact that William LeDuc, builder of the historic estate in Hastings, also dabbled in the spirit world. He even wrote a book about it.
During an upcoming Harvest Haunting, volunteers at the mansion will pay tribute to the Victorian-era spiritualism of the LeDuc family.
According to site manager Amy Deaver, a volunteer will staff a room with spirit boxes and other artifacts. “He’s going to create a little museum for us in the library,” she said.
While the event is family-friendly — there will be s’mores around a fire outside — the inside events likely appeal more to adults. They include talks on the practice of spiritualism, a mock seance, a reading of poems by Edgar Allan Poe, and readings of sections of LeDuc’s book on spiritualism.
At the end of the month, the many arches and curves of the Gothic Revival mansion will be lit in flickering lighting during first-ever candlelight tours.
“We rarely open the beautiful front Gothic doors of the house, but this is a very special thing,” said Margaret Goderstad, senior educator at the estate. “There is a certain mystique about the house and the main entrance.”
The Harvest Haunting is from 5 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 25. Candlelight tours take place at 6, 7 and 8 p.m. on Oct. 30 and 31.
Michael Norman Presents “Haunted America”
Fans of “American Horror Story” have seen Kathy Bates take on the role of socialite and serial killer Madame Lalaurie. In his book “Haunted America,” author Michael Norman discusses the horrifying real-life story of the Louisiana murderess and her haunted mansion, along with stories of other hauntings around the country.
Norman, a retired University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism professor, has researched and written half a dozen books about hauntings, including “The Nearly Departed: Minnesota Ghost Stories and Legends.”
The author talk takes place at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 27 at the Pleasant Hill Library in Hastings.
Minnesota Zoo: Nightmare on Zoo Boulevard
Those more into dancing than spooks and horror stories, particularly adults in their 20s and 30s, may enjoy a new event at the Minnesota Zoo. The zoo will host its first Halloween party for ages 21 and over. Music is by DJ YoungStar, who has worked with Justin Bieber and Wyclef Jean. There’s a strolling magician and creepy animal encounters, as well as a cash bar and costume contest.
The event runs from 7 to 10 p.m. on Oct. 30.
Liz Rolfsmeier is a Twin Cities freelance writer.