The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

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.

``We're trying to bring some validity to the reports of activity in the hotel,'' McCormick said. ``I love the Otesaga _ this is a great hotel. ... I love the creaking floors and the large rooms with tall ceilings.''

The team and crews arrived Monday, Griffith said, and some residents have noticed their van with ``TAPS'' lettered on the black exterior and inquired about their visit.

``Everybody has a ghost story in this town,'' Griffith said.

Griffith said the production process involves setting up recording equipment at ``hot spots'' where activities have been reported.

"Ghost Hunters" is produced by Pilgrim Films, which is based in Warwick, R.I., but episodes are recorded in locations across the country, Griffith said. The local visit also may include investigations at the National Baseball Hall of Fame, he said.

Jim Johnson, of Fly Creek, who helped organized a ghost hunters' symposium at the Otesaga in January, said he has been visiting the TAPS team this week.

``It's very exciting,'' said Johnson, a member of the Otsego County Board of Representatives. ``It's great for the community. It's great for the Otesaga _ it's going to be fun to find out what they end up finding.''