By Charlotte Finnical
On October 29th, the American Stage Theater at SPC’s Downtown Center was filled with audience members of all kinds, from the elderly locals greeting their friends to the nervous children holding their parent’s hand. Some whispered amongst themselves about what the night would hold, others chuckled at the Halloween-themed music playing overheard. They’re all there for one of the first events of St. Petersburg College’s Spirit Week: Haunted St. Pete.
Haunted St. Pete, an event done several times in the past (formerly known as Ghost Tour and Talk) is a presentation on some of the local ghosts and overall paranormal activity in St. Petersburg and beyond. It not only covers a lot of the spirits of the city, but also a good amount of local history.
SPC’s own professor, Brandy B. Stark, gave the presentation. Stark has been involved in paranormal investigation since the late nineties. She’s also the founder of Spirits of St. Petersburg, a formal paranormal investigation team. The team holds monthly events where they investigate potentially haunted places using technology and techniques specific to their trade.
Needless to say, Stark has had more than her fair share of encounters with the other side. She went on to tell about some of the most frequent sightings of ghosts in the county. Pinellas County has seen everything from a friendly ghost at Jannus Landing, known to help audience members who feel overwhelmed in the crowd, to the mysterious ghostly woman who is known to walk in and out of Mirror Lake on nights of a full moon. One of the county’s more famous ghosts is the spirit of Jack Kerouac, who is suspected to be the spirit haunting Haslam’s Bookstore in downtown St. Petersburg, putting his books eye-level during closing hours to rank up his sales.
Brandy B. Stark strongly encouraged her audience to change their preconceived notions about ghosts, saying a good amount of what the media shows us about the other side is an over dramatization of the truth. She discussed the fact that most apparitions seen by people are relatively peaceful, just like the living people we see on a day to day basis.
“I don’t believe in using ghosts to create fear,” Stark says. “They are essentially us, and I would not want us to be afraid of us.”
This event was a great start to what will be a very eventful week at St. Petersburg College. Spirit Week still has a wide variety of events planned for Titans everywhere. From a family movie night to a pep rally, St. Petersburg College is sure to have an event that will capture your interest.