People from all walks of life came together to listen to speakers on the paranormal.
Photo by Courtesy Patricia Bullock Williams
It’s not “Ghostbusters.” No crazy equipment, no oddball vehicles, no weird-looking people. The attitude in the hotel lobby is busy, yet relaxed. These are regular folks, the kind that make good neighbors—friendly, helpful, willing to lend a hand in time of need. In this case, two organizations—the TruthSeekers of Vicksburg and the Southern Paranormal and Anomaly Society (SPARS)—have bonded to hold a fundraiser for muscular dystrophy and the St. Jude’s Hospital.
The breakfast area in the Rodeway Inn in Greenville is alive with people. One woman, sitting at a table, works off a list to sort out the colored rubber wrist bracelets that go with each grade of ticket. She is very pleasant and welcomes me to the fundraiser. She tells me her name is Thelma and that she is not going to try to convince me of any agenda or that she has the answers, but she is part of this group to find out the truth. “I really don’t know what it is, but I know there’s something,” she says.
That seems to be the overarching theme that unites these two groups—they want to find out the truth about the paranormal. No one is going to beat you over the head if your views differ or if you’re skeptical.
All sorts of people are now walking in the front doors—singles, married, married with children in tow. What strikes me visually is that virtually everyone is wearing black T-shirts with black slacks. Four buff young men catch my eyes. They are in the de facto uniform, but what I notice is how fit these young men look. I have a sexist desire to check them for washboard abs. I assume they are the security team.
The main activity of the evening is a meet-and-greet-and-drink at Kepler’s Restaurant, where the T-shirts are replaced by casual dressy attire. The camaraderie is striking.
Saturday, however, is the big day. There is a bazaar for buying mementos and a room devoted to a variety of speakers, most of whom have books for sale. The day starts off with a parade of children from the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians of the Chahta-Ala Youth Council. The children are dressed in full regalia and even teach members of the audience to do the dances. Next is a line of speakers, writers and experts on the paranormal including Bud Steed, Patrick Burns, Marley Harbuck Gibson, Keith Age, the Rock and Roll Cowboy and Deonna Kelli Sayed, an American Muslim ghost hunter.
The bazaar includes standard sales items for any audience such as jewelry, soft children’s toys and handcrafts. Other items are a bit more esoteric, in particular some rather fetching handmade ghoul dolls which, when purchased, are given a leg tag. I liked the skeleton dressed in flowing rags.
But my personal favorites were the biomats: heated mats that utilize infrared rays, negative ions (“Nature’s Energizer”) and amethyst quartz (“Nature’s Super Conductor”). Both pairs of sellers encouraged people to try their mats. At first, I refused their offer. But later in the afternoon, I softened and crawled onto one of the mats. The heat was quite comforting, soft music was playing and I enjoyed the experience. My glow from the biomat disappeared, though, when I opened my eyes to see eager salespersons’ faces judging my reaction.
The nighttime brought new thrills—an investigation of three believed-to-be haunted businesses in the old town: the Delta Democrat Times, the old Firehouse and the old Courthouse. What better way to end a day of the paranormal?