Just like last year, Reel to Real will feature a special series for the fall season. Titled “Halloween 2K16”, this will be where I blog about horror movies, share fall recipes, and also let you know what’s going on in my paranormal investigating adventures. October is going to be a busy month. My team, Ghosts on the Coast, is honored to be partnering up with our usual haunt (no pun intended) the Strauss Mansion Museum and Atlantic Highlands Historical Society. We have a full schedule of events on tap, including three movie screenings, a party, a paranormal investigation, and then two weekends of new-look ghost tours.
Yesterday afternoon I found myself thinking, “I wonder if there are any Pokemon lurking at the museum?” What I was referring to is the Strauss Mansion, headquarters of the Atlantic Highlands Historical Society which was built in 1893. A few hours later, the president of our board texted me asking what I knew, and if there was any way to set our place up as a “Pokestop”. I told her it was all random, where they pop up and what locations get assigned as various roles, but I would check it out. I swung by today and sure enough, our museum is a Pokestop…and I also caught two Pokemon while I was there. If you don’t know what Pokemon Go is, then you have probably been living under a rock for the last week. As this game sweeps the nation and the world, businesses have come up with ideas to turn game-players into customers. Some have offered meal deals for people who play at their restaurant, as well as encourage their location to be used as a safe spot. This notion needs to get museums and historic sites thinking along those same lines.
I am not a marine biologist, but working for Brookdale Community College’s Ocean Institute means I am in the water with school groups from all over the state almost every weekday in May and June. It did not take this somewhat shocking story from Monmouth Musings a few days ago to tell me that something is definitely going on in the Jersey Shore’s waters. I am referring to the Shrewsbury and Navesink Rivers, as well as the Sandy Hook bay area. I have had this job for two years, and when we conduct seining programs with children, we have always pulled up clear jellyfish. They don’t sting and the kids enjoy holding them and seeing how they slide around in their hands. We then put them in a small pool with our other specimens before releasing everything at the end of the session. However, two weeks ago, I started noticing a prominence of Lion’s Mane Jellyfish (which I will just refer to as “red jelly”) floating around us and washing up on the sand. These were usually few and far between in recent years. No one has gotten stung yet, and they are easy to maneuver around and avoid. But it did strike me as odd at how many there were that just seemed to appear out of nowhere. Now on Wednesday, when a man was stung by a Clinging Jellyfish in the Shrewsbury River (noted in the above link), something which is native to the Pacific Ocean, that is when my alarm was raised.
Every so often, I share with my blog readers a debate I have had. A few months ago, I was in an email debate over Christopher Columbus and whether or not his holiday should be celebrated. Though I rarely post political commentary on here, I want to share this debate I had this morning with my good friend and fellow history graduate at NJCU, John DeSarno. I have known John for three years. We’re both Rangers fans. He’s a nice guy, intelligent, and logical, yet we happen to respectfully disagree on the issue at hand, the topic being whether or not the minimum wage should be raised to $15 per hour. John is an avid Bernie Sanders supporter and is for the idea. I, on the other hand, oppose it. I actually consider myself quite liberal and would support Uncle Bernie over Hillary Clinton just for a shake-up to the establishment, but I do not agree with some of his views.
Hartford is a weird city because it can be so loud yet quiet at the same time. I almost never knew there was a parade on Saturday. Would have missed it entirely if not for sheer coincidence. While eating a quiet breakfast at Sunberry Cafe and flying solo for the morning, I saw droves of people walking down the street holding cans of beer. How strange, I thought. Surely I must be mistaken. Minutes later, Will called me to say there was a parade and the lady working behind the counter confirmed. I stopped into the liquor store and asked what exactly was legal. As a New Jerseyan, I told them, where nothing is legal, I was fascinated by this. All the worker said was this was the one day out of the year when Hartford’s police department allow drinking in the streets. And drink they did. It is no exaggeration when I tell you that liquor quite literally flowed freely in the streets. Capital Liquors was practically giving away Irish booze: $3 Jameson shots and $2 jumbo cans of Guinness. The Thai restaurant next door, which has a bar, was also packed. People were grabbing cases of beer and dragging coolers to spots on the sidewalk where they could watch the parade.
This past weekend, more than 200 people came out to take the Strauss Mansion Haunted Lantern Tours, an event run by and benefiting the Atlantic Highlands Historical Society. An army of over 40 volunteers helped produce an evening of Edgar Allan Poe, where a short story or poem of his was acted out in different rooms on the first floor of the historic mansion, as well as the basement and backyard. A great time was had by all who worked, and much positive feedback was heard from guests who appeared to be delighted the event was more than jump-and-scare. This year we made it our mission to return to lantern tour prototypes from the early days of the event in the 2000’s, where visitors were treated to an actual story with some scares along the way.
The dark and morbid works of Edgar Allan Poe are immortal, and will be the focus of this year’s annual Haunted Lantern Tours at historic Strauss Mansion in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey. This event has become one of the biggest fundraisers for the Atlantic Highlands Historical Society which hosts it. The tours will take place in and around the haunted 1893-Victorian manor. Visitors will start on the first floor and then work their way through the house, outside, and into the basement, before emerging in the backyard for the grand finale. At each stop along the way, guests will see a short vignette acted out. The characters and settings from Annabelle Lee, The Fall of the House of Usher, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Pit and the Pendulum, Cask of Amontillado, The Premature Burial, and a few others will be used. The tour itself will become an interactive storybook of Poe’s most terrifying tales.