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March 25, 2010

Show hunts for truth behind local ghost stories

By Denise Richardson

Staff Writer

COOPERSTOWN _ Normal or paranormal?

That is the question investigators are asking about mysterious activities reported at the Otesaga Hotel in Cooperstown.

Members of The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS) are staying at the resort hotel on Otsego Lake for two weeks and filming an episode for ``Ghost Hunters,'' Britt Griffith, tech manager, said Wednesday.

The episode may be broadcast in two or three months by Syfy, he said.

Will it reveal that the Otesaga is haunted?

``You have to watch the episode,'' he said. The one-hour show is broadcast weekly on Wednesdays, he said.

Findings are proprietary, Griffith said. However, Otesaga employees have shared reports of ``full-bodied apparitions,'' voices and the sounds of children playing on upstairs floors, he said, and these are among local legends the team is investigating.

``We're trying to figure it out _ that's what makes it so fun,'' Griffith said. ``We do show episodes where `nothing' happens.''

The TAPS team has six members, or ``talent,'' and the production crew has 10 to 12 members, he said.

The first step is to ``de-bunk'' any story, that is, to determine if a scientific reason exists for reported sightings or sounds, Griffith said.

Equipment is used to monitor environmental factors, he said, and recordings are played back to look for visual or audio phenomenon unapparent during the investigation.

But he said 70 percent of cases investigated by ``Ghost Hunters'' result in paranormal activities, which are events that can't be explained.

Griffith, a California resident, said he worked 15 years as a foreman at an asphalt construction plant, and checking out paranormal events was a hobby. His interest developed into professional opportunities with ``Ghost Hunters.''

KJ McCormick, an investigator, agreed that being on the TAPS team is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

``I'm just passionate about the paranormal,'' he said. McCormick, a wood and steel worker who lives in Boulder, Colo., said he joined TAPS about a month ago, and this visit is his first to Cooperstown.

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