The haunted tours at the Strauss Mansion Museum this year were different. No script, no actors, no jump-scares or cheap thrills. Instead, we wanted to let our real ghosts do the talking. Myself along with other members of Ghosts on the Coast led five tours per night the last two weekends, approximately 45 minutes each. We started on the third floor in the Tower Room before working our way into the basement. Along the way, we told ghost stories and experiences which occurred in the museum over the years, reviewed evidence, and conducted SB-7 Spirit Box sessions to attempt to communicate with the ghosts. To say these were a success would be an understatement. We sold out every tour days in advance, and everyone appeared to leave happy. During the introduction at the beginning of the tour, I would mention how there are no guarantees of paranormal activity—that nothing was staged and sometimes we do not get anything no matter how hard we look. I also mentioned how I would rather we do these tours and find nothing than have someone hiding in a closet banging on the wall trying to scare people. I think they “got it” after that message. This was as close to a real paranormal investigation as we could make it, given the size of the groups and time constraints. But there were some experiences.
Aside from a steady dose of SB-7 responses and EMF spikes (we distributed a couple of detectors to the crowd for them to use) both weekends, the very first tour on our first night gave a few participants an experience they will not forget. I was telling a story in the basement, and in the back of the crowd, I saw three or four people visibly flinch and turn around. When the tour was over, I was told that there was a loud huff sound coming from the back of the room which startled them. I didn’t hear it because I was talking, but it moved them nonetheless.
Later the first night, two participants stood by a door on the third floor. They asked the ghosts to make it move. The door actually opened about six inches and their EMF detector spiked to a 4.0. The next day we were sent two EVP recordings by a visitor, which included a spirit saying “bad light” when she entered the room with her flashlight. Unbeknownst to her, a psychic at the museum a week earlier told us how the ghosts there did not like the flashlights because it is too bright for their senses. You can take that for what it’s worth.
We ended with a bang (literally) this past Saturday. On our first or second tour of the night, when everyone was gathered at the base of the second floor stairs, there were three loud bangs. So loud, you could feel the stairs vibrate. Initially, we thought someone was kicking the wall, but I didn’t see anyone move. Participants became either worried that a spirit was angry or annoyed because they thought we were faking it. But one of them was filming the crowd from behind at the time and told me he didn’t capture anything. A few minutes later, as we were telling more stories, the same bang was heard and felt. This time I was looking down at the floor. No one moved. Those could be the loudest noise we’ve ever heard from our deceased former residents.
One other participant also had her non-belief helped. During a SB-7 session, she asked, “I am a skeptic. Can you say something to me to get me to believe?” and the voice immediately responded, “Yes ma’am.” She jumped back, visibly startled as the group buzzed with excitement.
There were so many other moments which I could add, but those were the main ones. We were pleasantly surprised by how everything went. There have been requests to add more public investigations throughout the year. Look for those to come up again in April or May. People also want us to repeat these tours again next year. I think we will. We’ll just swap in some other stories (we have tons; what people heard on the tour was only a fraction) and maybe go into some different rooms. We hope everyone who came out had a good time. We certainly tried our best and think our spirit friends did the same. Unto next year!
I would like to personally thank all those who made this year’s tours possible, including the Atlantic Highlands Historical Society for allowing GOTC to run the tours, and by name, Lou Fligor, Joanne Dellosso, Roy Dellosso, Hunter Dillon, Patrick Osborn, Brett Bodner, Kimberly Reddan, Eileen Zengel, Bill Van Deventer, Lynn Fylak, Mary Wall, and Ian McNair.