First of all, no, this title is not some type of sinister warning. It’s more like a lecture. Sorry, kids. It’s still May and school’s not out yet!
So picture this. It’s Saturday, and lo and behold you have no plans. If you’re like me (and you have to kind of be, right? Or why are you reading this?), doing something paranormal-y starts to enter your mind. But the last residential you called didn’t pan out. And your invite from Jay and/or Grant (and/or any mixture of the Ghost Hunters team) to privately investigate the Stanley Hotel must have gotten lost in the mail again. So you figure the only thing left to do is to binge watch crappy B-horror movies on the Chiller Channel.
Well, first of all, I’m going to make myself feel better here and say watching the crappy B-horror films on the Chiller Channel is semi-valid research. I’ve learned many things including: 1) move the bodies, not just the headstones, 2) don’t bully because that creates hostile energy in the afterlife, and 3) stop screaming and start running. However, watching other people doing things will never replace the experience you get from doing things yourself. And that’s where your local urban legend comes into play.
I think a lot of paranormal teams come up with a lot of excuses not to do the urban legend investigation: it’s not “high profile” enough for some teams, it’s not “helping anybody”, it’s all hearsay, it’s not a controlled environment, it’s too hot/too cold/too rainy outside. True, true, true, true, and way true. However, checking out an urban legend will allow you and your team to acquire experience with equipment, investigation techniques, debunking, and research. That’s all gain and no loss in my book. Other benefits of investigating urban legends are that most are public and easy to access and there’s no cost involved. Of course, those can also be the downfalls with urban legends, too. It means anyone can go at any time. Also, most urban legends are outside, which means more evidence contamination with animals, wind, and temperature fluctuations. However, when done correctly, the urban legend can become one of the most fun and satisfying investigations for your team.
So how does one “correctly” execute an urban legend investigation? In my opinion, it all boils down to research and repeating the investigation over and over and paying attention to basics like these. As I’ve mentioned. unlike the residential or business investigation, the urban legend is mainly an outdoor one. With the changing of the seasons, different variables open up that may cause different phenomena. For example, last fall we went to a local “crybaby” hill in the middle of a cornfield. The corn was all cut down for the season and we got some really neat audio because of echoes. Will that happen again when the corn is grown up and surrounding the hill? We’ll let you know!
We have another local urban legend known as “The Headless Motorcycle Rider of Elmore Ohio” on which we’ve spent a lot of time researching and investigating. It is an anniversary haunt, meaning it happens on a specific day each year. Co-director Don and I, along with varying members of our team, have gone out to a certain bridge, flashed our headlights and honked our car horn three times, and waited for the headless motorcycle rider to follow us for at least six years. Don wrote an article about it that got published in a UK magazine. He also made a video that we include in some of the presentations we do around Halloween. This year on the anniversary date, we teamed up with the local public library to present a slide show about urban and local legends. We then invited some of the attendees to join us as we, once again, tried to capture evidence of the Elmore Rider. Of course, once again, he did not show up. But what fun! And in the course of things, we got some new information and ideas to try.
Almost every city and town has a local urban legend attached to it. You probably already know of one. If not, just Google “haunted” “your county””your state”. See them all? Now pick one and go investigate. It’s really that simple. And it’s really more worthwhile than watching a repeat of 1408, even if that movie does teach you a lesson about investigating alone.