Halloween is my favorite holiday and the weeks leading up to it are some of the best of the year; I love seeing stores line their shelves with bags of candy and Halloween decorations, the cheesy scary movies on TV, and watching front yards fill up with spooky decorations. For as long as I can remember, I love being scared silly and some of my fondest memories are the ones of my friends and I trick-or-treating when we were younger. When I go on vacation to somewhere new, you can be sure I’ll hit up the local ghost tour (I’ve been to one in Boston, one in Bisbee, and one in San Diego — I can’t wait to add to that list!) In Boston, I remember being fascinated by the fact that the hotel we were staying in, the Omni Parker House hotel, was actually ON the ghost tour. I felt special and preened a little at the thought that my family was the ‘cool one’ on the tour for picking such a cool spot to stay.
Until later that night when the fire alarm went off and the hotel staff couldn’t figure out why.
Now I know this may sound a little far-fetched and I may be giving myself a little too much credit, but I specifically remember challenging the ghost of the hotel to prove he was real because I was being hard-headed about his existence. On the ghost tour, they told us people who stayed at our hotel talked about seeing the ghost roam the halls, having their feet tickled in the room, doors opening by themselves, etc. I was young — in fifth grade I believe — and I wanted to feel special and experience some of this phenomenon myself! I wanted to have a bona fide ghost story too or the hotel stay was a bust!
On the elevator ride back up to our room, I remember saying something out loud like “If you’re really here, prove it!” or something equally as childish. My mom and Dad, not huge believers themselves, gave me ‘the look’ — I guess they didn’t want to tempt anything –and I quickly shut my mouth and put the thought of ghosts out of my head.
Fast forward a couple of hours later and I remember waking up to an obnoxious alarm going off and flashing lights and my mother’s repeated ‘get up! get up!’ I remember walking down what seemed to be an endless number of stairs (although being half-asleep and ten at the time was probably the culprit) and ushered into the foyer with all the other hotel guests. People were loud, pushy, and I was slightly bewildered. As I finally started to get my bearings and watched all the hotel staff pass by in a blur, I remember wandering if everything happening was all my fault. My foolish taunt to Harvey Parker in the elevator that day popped into my head and I couldn’t help but wonder if this was him ‘proving’ his existence. The staff doesn’t know what caused the alarm and to this day, I’m pretty sure Harvey Parker’s ghost had a good laugh at my expense.
If you’re in the mood to do some of your own ghost-hunting in Gilbert and nearby locations, check out some of the places listed below.
*Disclaimer: No matter where you go this Halloween to get your annual fill of frights and delights, please remember to obey all laws, stay safe, walk in groups, and don’t trespass! And please, do me a favor and don’t tease the ghosts! You don’t want to be woken up at 3am from a fire alarm, believe me ;)
- Rt. 85, Crater Range: Supposedly haunted by a couple killed here who were on their way to their honeymoon at Lake Tahoe in the 1950s.
- Highland Junior High: Haunted by a young girl who was killed on the land when it was farmland. Turns on automatic hand dryers, slams lockers, and flushes toilets.
- Gilbert Historical Museum: A girl was heard singing, low grumbling voice, flashlight dimmed and brightened in response to questions.
- Private residences (Obviously you can’t visit these, but they’re still fun to read about!)
- Williams Air Force Base (now ASU Polytechnic campus and Phoenix-Mesa Gateway airport): Male spirit seen wandering around the VA hospital. For the record, I work on this campus and have heard MANY creepy stories from people who live here and maintenance men. I’ve heard of people witnessing faces in the mirror, a feeling of being watched, faucets turning on by themselves, basketballs rolling down halls by themselves, seeing people with no faces, little kid voices being heard, etc. Very spooky!
- Jefferson Park: Allegedly haunted by a woman who was murdered there. Some people have claimed to see her walking around the park.
- Inside the Bungalow eatery: People have reported seeing a ‘shadow man’ who walks from room to room in the coffee house, as well as a little girl who plays with the tables. Some have reported that something inhuman lives in the houses on the back of the property.
- 8th Avenue and Extension Road: Haunted by a little boy who was killed trying to cross the street.
- Chandler High School: Disembodied voices and ghostly figures can supposedly be seen and heard on the second floor of the building.
- Crowne Plaza San Marcos Hotel: Employees of the hotel say they receive phone calls from rooms and extensions that don’t exist. Guests claim that a woman floats in certain areas of the hotel and moaning can be heard from time to time.
- Casey Moore’s Oyster House: Supposedly haunted by a little girl who was murdered in an upstairs room.
- Trails: Visitors to the store have reported seeing a woman on the stairs and hearing footsteps on the second level when no one is there.
- Palo Verde East – Dorm on ASU Campus: Students have reported seeing a woman in white walking around the sixth floor. She supposedly committed suicide in one of the dorm rooms and can sometimes be heard humming.
- Monti’s La Casa Vieja: A few ghosts — including laughing children and a cowboy — have been seen and heard by staff and customers alike.
- Hotel San Carlos: Although home to many ghost sightings, the most famous is that of Leone Jensen who was rumored to have jumped to her death due to either a lingering illness or broken heart.
- Deer Valley High School: Haunted by a ghost named ‘Dwex’ that is frequently seen in the arts center of the school an on the catwalk. Sounds of children laughing have also been heard and electrical malfunctions have been witnessed.
- Arizona State Prison Complex – Flamenco Unit: Sounds of a key rattling have been reported when no one is there, doors open and close on their own, and extra inmates are sometimes counted during roll call.
(Phoenix has a long list of haunted places, most likely because it is so big. For a more complete list, visit here or here.)
Know of a haunted place or have a favorite ghostly hangout? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.