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Paranormal Expo draws kindred spirits to Lafayette Hotel

River Rat Tarot offered psychic readings at the Paranormal Expo. (Photo by Doug Loyer)

MARIETTA — The second annual Hidden Marietta Paranormal Exposition was held Saturday in the Lafayette Hotel Ballroom in Marietta.

The Marietta Paranormal Exposition helped attendees learn more about the paranormal. It’s human nature to seek explanation of unusual experiences while others attending were attracted to the paranormal for it’s entertainment purposes.

“There’s always been people into the paranormal, but they didn’t know there was such a following for it,” said Megan Keller, co-owner of Hidden Marietta, sponsor for the event. “It has gained in popularity because of the TV shows that are out there. Now more people are saying yes, I like this too and I want to become involved.

“We’ve had a steady flow of people come through (Saturday),” said Keller. “It looks like we’ll surpass last year’s total of around 300.”

With 32 vendors and six guest speakers, the expo offered a selection of products, services and activities to keep everyone busy. Vendors offered leather goods, candles, herbs, oils, crystals, books, jewelry and paintings.

Author James A. Willis talks about “Ghosts of Ohio” as one of the featured speakers at the expo. (Photo by Doug Loyer)

Reiki energy healing sessions were offered and River Rat Tarot offered psychic readings.

Some guests arrived earlier for the Friday night “Lights Out Lock Down” which featured celebrity guest Dalen Spratt of “Ghost Brothers” TV show. The “Lights Out Lock Down” was also offered Saturday evening as well. Participants in the event got to investigate areas usually off-limits to guests, like the basement, certain rooms and hallways. They were allowed to investigate until 3 am.

Tina Fraser, of Columbus, and her mother, Edith Hahlbeck, participated in Friday night’s “Lights Out Lock Down” event and really enjoyed it. Fraser said they were first taken on a history tour of the hotel where they were told about things that they may encounter.

“We were in one of the basement ballrooms last night and were able hear the voice of a little child,” said Fraser. “With a spirit box (a devise that scans radio frequencies and allows entities to communicate) we were able to get the name of the little child in the basement, his name was Thomas.”

Fraser believes Thomas died in a fire that burned the hotel that existed on the location before the Lafayette was built.

A display of original latex masks line the table in the Seymour’s Shop of Horrors booth. (Photo by Doug Loyer)

“We could hear his voice quite clearly,” said Fraser. “He said that his name was Thomas and that he was 8 years old. His voice sounded sad.”

“It’s been an experience,” agreed Hahlbeck. “It didn’t scare me but made me sad for the people that haven’t traveled beyond.”

Yvonne Shepard, of Parkersburg, enjoyed the Paranormal Expo with the large number of unique vendors.

“I love this. I do this for fun,” said Shepard, who has had fun with that type of thing since she was a child.

“My Grandma and Grandpa used to tell me ghost stories about strange things that happened,” said Shepard. “It was a nice winter’s night tradition. Some stories were a little scary and some were funny.”

Author James A. Willis, sometimes known as “Weird Willis,” had a booth at the expo as well as being one of the featured speakers, talking about “Ghosts of Ohio.”

“I have an obsession with weird historical things. I’ve been searching after all things strange and spooky since 1985 when I was a teenager in upstate New York,” said Willis, who has authored or co-authored 14 books. “I ended up here in Ohio in 1999 and started ‘Ghosts of Ohio,’ which is a paranormal research organization.”

Willis has written “Weird Ohio,” a travel guide to some of Ohio’s best kept secrets and legends, among many other “weird” books.

“I’ve made a writing career out of going to weird places,” explained Willis. “We’ve all driven down the road and seen something and think … ‘That’s weird’ and then keep on going. I’m the guy that turns around.

“I’ve heard from teachers and parents that can’t get their kids to read and they then they pick up one of my weird books and they like to read them. That just warms my heart.”

First time vendor Cory Seymour, of Seymour’s Shop of Horrors in Hilliard, displayed an array of masks at his booth.

“I make latex masks dedicated to ‘Cryptid’ which are creatures that are believed to have existed but haven’t been proved scientifically,” explained Seymour.

He sculpts a masks out of clay, casts it in plaster and then uses latex. He then paints it and adds additional items including synthetic fur and hair.

Another vendor, Grandiose Glitches of New Matamoras, had a large selection of jewelry and resin products.

“I made everything here on the table,” said owner Brandi Gage, who is known for her tentacle jewelry. “I work with clay and resin.”

Gage said she and her friends are into the paranormal and found this event and wanted to try it.

“This expo has a great variety of vendors and it’s an original way to showcase the city and help people learn about Marietta,” said Kelli Walsh, of Stockport, as she was browsing the booths. “This is a great way to draw in people and present our history in a different way.”

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