NORMAN — Ghoulies, goblins and ghosts aren’t reserved for ancient cemeteries or abandoned buildings. Unseen and unnoticed by most, these supernatural beings have taken up residence throughout Norman.
But for some locals, frequent encounters with things that go bump in the night are just a part of every day life.
Jeff Provine, author of “Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma,” said Norman, and in particular the University of Oklahoma campus, have many haunts — some simple legends and others based on actual events.
Provine began research on Norman ghost stories in 2009 by talking to locals, searching online and reading old newspapers. His discoveries were surprising.
“Buildings I had walked past every day of my career in higher education had harrowing tales that I had never even imagined: exorcism, beheading, disembodied whispers, named spirits and roaming ones,” he writes in his recently published book.
Among the most notorious of OU hauntings is the story of a roller-skating ghost boy who continues to skate up and down the hallways of Ellison Hall, once the campus’ infirmary called Hygeia Hall. As legend has it, the boy was skating along Elm Avenue years ago when he was hit by a car and rushed into the hall for treatment where he later died. Other versions of the story have the boy dying from an asthma attack. No matter the details, Provine said many have shared accounts of hearing the ghostly boy playing in the halls.
Provine now uses the tales he has collected to conduct 75-minute walking ghost tours of campus for the OU Visitor Center. The tours are free and open to the public. Sign-ups are available at ou.edu/content/visit/tours.html.
Though Provine has never witnessed conformational evidence of any other-worldly beings, he does report feeling distinctly disturbed from certain “haunted” locations. As for explaining these incidents, Provine is unsure of the answer.
“Ceasing to exist when you die is the scariest thing I can imagine — which I conform to the Judeo-Christian philosophical background, which your spirit is supposed to rest, but every once in a while stuff happens,” he said. “And then there are others that I think are demonic activity.”
For Leslie Draper, psychic medium and soul healer, encounters with spirits are easily explained. The Norman resident said she sees angels — spirits from people who have passed on and gone to heaven — on a daily basis. She has also encountered what she calls “earth bounds” or spirits from people who have died and haven’t found their way to heaven yet.
“The longer on earth the more confused, the more separated, the more lost they become,” Draper said of the earth bounds. “The overwhelming majority of the time when someone has a haunting it is not an evil spirit — I don’t like the word demon, I choose low-level energies, entities. That’s what I use instead of demon because I don’t want to give it any power.
“It’s not. It’s someone who was scared. It’s someone that’s still scared. And it’s someone that needs help. The only difference is the physical body is gone but their energy body is here.”
Earth bounds often stay inside homes or attach to objects, but are also known to wander, Draper said. For people who are scared of these spirits, Draper performs what she calls removals.
“It’s almost like spirit therapy in a way,” she said.
During a removal Draper said she helps the earth bound to understand that they are dead and that they need to move on to the afterlife.
For spirits that never make that transition, Draper said they eventually become a low-level energy.
“The longer an energy remains lost on earth the less human it is. ... The longer they stay on earth, the less attached they become to being human,” she said. “I call those critters. I don’t know what to say about that. It’s not a good conversation.”
Draper said she also attempts to remove low-level energies in desperate situations, though it is not always successful. For more on Draper visit lesliedraper.net.
Lauren Kelly, Norman resident and psychic, artist and tarot reader, said she frequently channels various deities, spirits and angels. Whether a person is living or already passed on, Kelly said everybody leaves an “energy footprint somewhere.”
“If you live in a house for 20 years and you hate your job during that 20 years you’re probably going to leave a little bit of angry residue in that house,” Kelly said. “[Then] somebody can go in and feel that negativity and go, ‘My god, this house, I need to exercise it. There’s demons in here.’ When in reality its just somebody who was ticked off for 20 years. There are exceptions to that, but most of the time its just residue or grandma saying, ‘Hi.’ It really is.”
Kelly frequently performs readings at Sandalwood & Sage, 322 E. Main St. For more on Kelly visit laurenkellyart.webs.com.
With the paranormal lurking around every corner — through energy residues, earth bounds or angels — it’s no wonder Provine said so many sense the unexplainable presence of paranormal activity.
“There’s been lots of cases of people seeing shadows and going around the corner and nobody being there, getting this feeling that you’re watched,” he said. “I talked to this lady who in the ‘90s, when she was a student, was looking for a book and then a couple of shelves down from her an entire shelf of books flew off. Like not just the shelf broke, because the shelf was fine, but the books all tumbled away. And I was told last year that in the (OU) Great Reading Room people often feel like something smacked them on the back of the neck or on the back of the wrist.”
Kimberly Marshall, OU Department of Anthropology assistant professor who teaches classes on folklore and folklife, said it is common for individuals to have experiences that are difficult to explain. While some make sense of these experiences through religious devotion or scientific exploration, she said others use tales of the paranormal.
These experiences are often a part of local culture, or folklore, Marshall said, and as such are “often highly tied to (even definitional of) identify. So, just as for religion, the tales people share about the paranormal in their world can be experienced as a deep bond to other people, to a culture, or to a place.”
Get in the Halloween spirit with these local events and activities.
Thunderbird Trail of Fear
Run from a family of cannibals at Thunderbird Trail of Fear Haunted Scream Park in the newly opened facilities at 14501 E. Etowah Rd. in Noble.
The park is open Oct. 11-12, 18-19, 24-27 and 31-Nov. 2 with the Hackensaw Haunted Hill, a haunted house where trespassers must escape the demented Hackensaw family, and several shows by the Crispy Family Carnival, an authentic troupe of sideshow performers.
Bob Wright, co-owner and co-creator, said the park is a safe way to enjoy some seasonal, spooky fun.
“We really attract people of all types. It really just depends on if you like to get scared and have a really good time,” he said. “Even though we’re a family-friendly event, that does not mean we’re not scary or gory. We just don’t do anything sacrilegious.”
General admission tickets are $15 and include the Hackensaw Haunted Hill and one of two carnival shows. An additional Crispy Family Carnival Show is available for $10 per person Friday and Saturday nights for ages 18 and up. Valid ID is required for the additional show.
The ticket booth is open nightly 6:30-10 p.m., with gates opening at 7 p.m. Tickets can also be purchased online at trailoffear.com. Parking is free.
City of Moore’s Trail of Fears Haunted Trail
Beware of creatures lurking around every corner at the City of Moore’s Trail of Fears 8-11 p.m. Oct. 26 at Little River Park, 700 SW 4th in Moore.
The 1/3 mile course is designed for adults and children ages 12 and older. Children 11 years old or younger must be accompanied by an adult.
Tickets are $5 and must be pre-purchased at the Moore Community Center, 301 S. Howard Ave. in Moore.
There will also be a movie in the park, and a jack-o-lantern contest at 7 p.m.
For more information visit cityofmoore.com/trail-fears-haunted-trail.
TG Farms Pumpkin Patch Experience
Tractor drawn hayrides, a petting zoo and hay and corn mazes are just some of the fun at TG Farms Annual Pumpkin Patches in both Norman, 4335 W. Highway 9, and Newcastle, 1580 NW Highway 37.
Other attractions include a giant hay jump and slide, tricycle race track, duck pond, pony rides and of course, a pumpkin patch to hand-select a pumpkin.
Admission is $8 per person during the day Monday-Friday (walking age and above), and $10 after 3 p.m. and weekends. The entry fee includes choice of a pumpkin from the pumpkin patch.
For more information visit tgfarms.com.
Orr Family Farm
Wander the multi-acre corn maze at Orr Family Farm, 14400 S. Western in Oklahoma City, as a part of the farm’s Fall Festivities open through Nov. 16.
Other activities include a pumpkin patch and hayrides.
A Farm Pass is $10 Monday-Thursday and $12.50 Friday-Sunday and includes a hayride, pumpkin patch, train ride, animal barn, pedal cars, giant jumping pillows and slides, sand box, playground, carousel rides and more. Farm Pass Plus is $15 Monday-Thursday and $17.50 Friday-Sunday and includes all Farm Pass items plus entry into the Corn Maze.
Corn Maze tickets are $10 and include a hayride and visit to the pumpkin patch.
Hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 1-6 p.m. Sunday.
For more information visit orrfamilyfarm.com.
Pumpkins large and small are available at the Sooner Bloomers pumpkin patch in the Sooner Mall parking lot, 3301 W. Main St.
The patch is open 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday through the end of October. Pumpkins range in price from $0.50-$45.
McFarlin Memorial United Methodist Church
Get your pumpkins from McFarlin Memorial United Methodist Church, 419 S. University Blvd., 9:30 a.m. to dusk Monday-Saturday and 12:15 p.m. to dusk Sunday. Pumpkins will be sold through Oct. 30 or until pumpkins are sold out.
Pumpkins are sold by weight, with all funds going back to the church.
City of Moore’s Haunt Old Town
Walk the streets of Old Town Moore for safe trick-or-treating and a variety of activities during Haunt Old Town 4-7 p.m. Oct. 26 at Old Town Moore, 101 W. Main St. in Moore.
The free event includes food vendors, inflatables, face painting, carriage rides, candy and giveaways from Old Town and Moore businesses.
For more information visit cityofmoore.com/haunt-old-town-0.
Alameda Church Fall Festival
Enjoy a free evening of trunk-or-treat, candy, hot dogs/chips, carnival games, jumbo slide and more during the Alameda Church of Christ’s Fall Festival 6-8 p.m. Oct. 30 at 801 Alameda St. For more information visit alamedacofc.org.
McFarlin Memorial United Methodist Church Fall Festival
Join McFarlin Memorial United Methodist Church, 419 S. University Blvd., 5-7 p.m. Oct. 27 for an evening of candy and costumes at the Fall Festival. Gently-used coats will be accepted for the winter coat closet.
NorthHaven Church Pumpkin Party
Get festive during NorthHaven Church’s Pumpkin Party 6:30 p.m. Oct. 30 at 4600 36th Ave. NW. The evening includes trunk-or-treat, pumpkin decorating, chili cook off and cake decorating contest. For more information visit northhavenchurch.net.
University of Oklahoma Ghost Tour
Learn about the ghosts that haunt the University of Oklahoma campus — and maybe even encounter a few — during OU’s Ghost Tour.
Freshman Programs Instructor Jeff Provine leads guests on 75-minute tours through OU’s campus sharing his ongoing research into OU’s many legends.
Two tours are scheduled for Oct. 12 and 19. Advance registration is required. Additional tour dates are announced monthly. The tours are free, but donations are accepted to benefit Children’s Advocacy Centers of Oklahoma
For more information visit ou.edu/content/visit/tours.html.
Mummy and Son dances
Dance the night away with mom during the City of Norman’s Mummy and Son Masquerade or the City of Moore’s Mummy and Son Dance, both on Oct. 25.
Two dances are scheduled in Norman 6-7:30 p.m. and 8-9:30 p.m. at the 12th Avenue Recreation Center. Tickets are $5 per person. For more information call 405-292-7275 or visit normanfun.com.
Two dances are scheduled in Moore 6-7:30 p.m. and 8-9:30 p.m. at the Moore Community Center. Tickets are $5 per person. For more information visit cityofmoore.com/mummy-and-son-dance-0.