Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Win free passes to the 5th Realm

As I had mentioned on Monday, I was able to snag some free passes to the 5th Realm haunted attraction in Clovis. Each pass is good for 1 of the 5 attractions there and since I was able to grab 20 I'm going to give away 5 sets of 4 passes for the winner to use however they want.

So here's what you need to do to win. The first 5 people to comment below telling me what your favorite Weird Fresno post over the past 3 years is and why AND leaves their e-mail address will win. Simple as that. The e-mail is important as I need a way to contact you to let you know you won. So that's it. Simple huh?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Weird Fresno checks out the 5th Realm haunted attraction

If you've been reading this blog for a while now (and who hasn't?) then you know about this time for the past two years I've been harassed by the residents of a local Halloween haunt in Clovis at the Sierra Vista Mall. Knowing that the time was coming for them to open again I thought I'd get the jump on them and show up unannounced.

The newly christened 5th Realm, boasts five attractions this year. You have Delirium 3D, Slaughterhouse, Nocturnal, Insanitarium, and the ever lovely Epidemic.

Emboldened by the fact that I had the element of surprise on my visit, I walked up to the door. I should have known better as they were expecting me, they proceeded to shoving me right in the door and left me on my own. Remember how the two previous visits I had a guide? Yeah not this year. Apparently they were fed up with my guides lack of getting me killed and figured my own luck (or lack thereof) would do it.

I first started off in the Delirium 3D and of course all the clowns remembered me from last year (still have no idea how they know me by name and from this website, I never mentioned who I was) and harassed me throughout the entire venue. Let me just say this. If you have a fear of clowns or just don't like them, don't mention it to them. They feed off that and good luck getting through there without getting the shit scared out of you.

After that little ray of sunshine, I decided that it may be smarter if I was in a group (safety in numbers right?) and decided to tag along with a few people in front of me for the Slaughterhouse attraction. Now this one is entirely new and didn't know what to expect. The thing that honestly creeped me out the most was as we were walking through it, there was no music playing as with the other attractions. I don't know if this was deliberate or not, but it added to the creepy ambiance and this actually made the Slaughterhouse my favorite attraction.

Finally through that fun little nut house my new meat shields err friends and I decided to head to Nocturnal. I was a bit apprehensive about going here as I knew my guides from the previous years resided here and wouldn't be too happy to see me. If you watch the video I took, I run into a familiar looking face. But like most of the women I know she denies knowing me. Her loss. I taste yummy.

And after that jaunty little trip into hell, Team Weird Fresno (which I dubbed us) headed to the Insanitairum. Every year this is the one that creeps me out the most and even though Slaughterhouse was able to top the Insanitarium, they did a good job of throwing everything they could at me and actually had me jump at a certain point and scream.

So apparently Team Weird Fresno didn't last long (I think I was the David Lee Roth of the group and that led to the break up) and was forced to entire Epidemic by myself. Lovely. Usually I do have a penchant for zombies, but not when they are trying to eat me. Thankfully I was too quick for the shambling horde and was able to make it through the attraction relatively unscathed. That is until I ran into a zombie juggalo with a chainsaw at the end.

Thankfully I was able to get some video of the 5th Realm and compiled a bit of what the attractions are like. The video runs a bit over 6 minutes but gives you a good example of what to expect.

5th Realm is currently open on Friday and Saturdays, except the last full week of October when they will open on Sunday and Thursday as well. The next night they will be open is September 30. For ticket prices and other information can be found at their website

Also I was able to snag a few passes to the attraction. Keep your eyes open for a post later this week on how to win them.

Friday, September 23, 2011

A visit to the Paranormal 101 class at the Fresno Adult Ed Center

Last night (Thursday September 22) I attended the Paranormal 101 class that the Fresno Adult Ed School offers every Fall semester. The class is instructed by Central California Paranormal Investigators founder and director Jackie Meador. Meador has been involved investigating the paranormal for over a decade now and has been an instructor through the Adult Ed system for six years now.

The course is six weeks long and starts off with a short history of the paranormal field from it's founding in the Spiritual Movement in the late 19th Century all the way up to modern times and the numerous paranormal reality shows on TV. For the first three weeks students learn what type of equipment is used (camera both film and digital, audio recorders and devices that collect environmental data) and how to properly use it. Meador also goes into detail on how important it is to research the history of a site as any information you can find may help validate any evidence you may gather.

During the third week the class takes a field trip to a haunted location for the students to practice the techniques they learn in class. The location is Sierra Sky Ranch, a location I personally feel to be one of the most active places I've ever investigated. This is the infamous Sierra Sky Ranch that I have mentioned before. The students form groups and a member of CCPI tags along with them to make sure everyone is safe and is there to answer any questions.

The final three weeks involves the students discussing what they saw at the Ranch and going over any evidence they may have gathered. Each group is then asked to give a report on their findings, if the location is haunted or not in their opinions and to show their evidence.

As I write this there is still time to sign up for the class. Meador said that the school will allow students to register up to the second class, which will be on September 29. The class is at the Manchester Center, second floor, Room 6 and is from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm and to register you can call the school at (559) 457-6000. The trip up to the Sierra Sky Ranch will be on October 15, so if you want to take the class be sure you are available that night as it's an overnight investigation.

Also there will be a good chance I will be attending the October 15 investigation and will be tweeting as the investigation occurs (and hopefully be able to stream some video as well). Details will be announced via Twitter and Facebook so if you aren't following either one you can find my Twitter here and my Facebook here.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Review of Jeff Belanger's Picture Yourself Legend Tripping

In my quest to bring the weird and strange to the masses (ok the five people that read this blog on a regular basis) I decided to start doing some reviews on books that I find interesting and/or helpful for those interested in the paranormal. The first review I am doing is on Jeff Belanger's "Picture Yourself Legend Tripping".

I had first come across this book listening to a podcast where Jeff was speaking about his new book and I was intrigued how it sounded like what I was doing with Weird Fresno, but on a more defined level. Remember that haunted cemetery you and your friends checked out when you were kids? That was legend tripping. That's right, most likely all of us have done it one time or the other. I remember when I was 17 and heard a cemetery in Madera was haunted (the infamous New Hope Cemetery which I've mentioned a few times on here) and my best friend Tom and I went out to investigate armed with nothing more than flashlights and our courage (ok and a few wooden stakes). We weren't there trying to prove ghosts exist; we just heard a story and wanted to check it out. That's legend tripping.

According to Wikipedia, the term "legend tripping" (also known as ostension) is a term created by folklorist to describe the adolescent practice of making a journey (usually at night) to a site that is alleged to have been the scene of some tragic, horrific and possibly supernatural event or haunting. Jeff goes into further detail on what legend is and it's about the adventure and experiencing the story. The book breaks down different legends such as ghosts, UFO's, monsters and other urban legends. Sounds a bit like what I do doesn't it and you see where I was intrigued? Here was a book that talked about exploring the story, not trying to prove or disprove it, just to explore the legend and in doing so possibly become part of it.

Jeff further goes into detail on other types of legends from children's legends, ancient mysteries, internet legends, and even how to interview any witness you may encounter (which I find very helpful). In the ghost legend tripping chapter Jeff goes into great detail on how to get information on a legend and gives advice on how to contact people and what to say to them to get the information you are looking for. I found this extremely helpful and even learned a few new techniques and I've been doing this for over a decade now.

I've really enjoyed this book and read it several times in the last couple of months. This may sound odd, but the book reinvigorated my interest in the paranormal. I had become so burned out from investigating where the focus was trying to prove the location was haunted that the reason the place was haunted was almost forgotten. And that was what got me interested in the first place, the story. It also focuses on the history of the location and even the town itself. With so many other books out there claiming to be able to teach you to be a paranormal investigator it's nice to see a book that goes back to basics and keeps things fun. I'd definitely recommend Picture Yourself Legend Tripping to anyone who has even the slightest interest in the paranormal.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

More info on the Walnut Girl of Armona

Seems there's a bit of a theme developing lately here at Weird Fresno. Last week I had written about how I had received some information regarding one of the ghosts of Roosevelt High School. As I was working on that, Ken Summers (who contributes to Who Forted?, one of my favorite paranormal sites) sent me some information which he believes might related to the tale of the Walnut Girl of Armona.

Scan of the June 16, 1942 post from the
San Jose Evening News.

According to the San Jose Evening News while driving along the Last Chance Ditch Canal, which is located about five miles northwest of Hanford, a car blew out a tire and ran off the road into the ditch and overturned. Four out of the seven in the car drowned, including 9 year old Gloria Castillo. Could this somehow be the Walnut Girl?

Ken was kind enough to send me both a copy of the article and a map of the area that shows the location of the canal and it's proximity to Armona. One could theorize that the ghost of the girl, for some reason, moved south until it reached Armona. And given that her and her family were fruit pickers, perhaps that is why she is said to have been seen in orchards and packing houses as she had hoped to find them there somehow.

Map of the Hanford/Armona area. The canal is in blue
and the red X is the presumed location of the accident.

Still this doesn't explain in the legend how it took place in the 19th Century (Armona was founded sometime in the 1880's), the fact that she always appear naked and only to girls around her own age. But the fact that in the news article a little girl drowned in a body of water that was nine years old can't be coincidence. Or can it?

The truth is, no one will ever know. There will be those out there that claim the 1942 crash to be the genesis for the story and someone added changed the date and details to make it more "romantic". Others will claim that it did originally occur sometime in the late 1800's and the setting is accurate. And then there will be those that say it's just complete bullshit. Honestly it doesn't matter. The more and more I research these stories the less I care about proving their factuality. For whatever reason stories compel us, everyone has one and they allow us to relate on a humanistic level. And that's why I share them.

I have to give credit where credit is due. If Ken hadn't sent me an e-mail, this bit of information would still be unknown to me. Like I said, he writes for Who Forted? (check out his latest article here on why ghosts are always seen nude) and you can find his website here and link to his blog here.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Update to the Roosevelt High hauntings

Leslie Chambers, who's death at Roosevelt
High School has spurred a ghost story that's
lasted over 40 years.

I've written over dozens of articles on haunted locations throughout the Fresno area and beyond. But that's what they have always been, stories. You are never really sure of the truth behind the names and events that are said to have occurred that created the haunt.

One of the more popular articles that I've done is the one on the ghosts of Roosevelt High School, especially the story of "Lester". For those who aren't familiar with the story, it's said that in 1977 a student named Lester was performing on the stage in the auditorium and collapsed there and died from either dehydration or possibly a heart attack. Ever since then people have felt his presence in the auditorium in one way or another.

Being the skeptic I am, I wasn't quite sure on the truth to this story. So imagine my surprise when I received an e-mail the other day from someone saying they were Lester's cousin and was then able to verify what happened. Turns out the story is true in most regards as a student did die due to a congenital heart defect while performing on stage. His name was Leslie Chambers and was born on October 16, 1944. On October 10, 1960 (just 6 days before his 16th birthday) while performing a cheer on stage as part of a school assembly, Leslie collapsed mid-performance and died. At that time his mother and grandmother were out shopping for his birthday and were quickly notified by the school. He was well loved by both his family and classmates and after his death the school created a memorial on one of the trees at the school where Leslie and his girlfriend met for lunch each day.

Now I don't know if Leslie haunts the stage where he died, and now that this story has both a name and face to go with it I certainly hope not as the story seems more personal now. But this is one of those times that the legend has some truth in it. Now it's possible that someone just made up the entire story of "Lester" haunting the auditorium and used the known death of a student to give it an apparent kernel of truth, but that's uncertain.

What I do hope is that the students at Roosevelt (current and future) that hear the story of Lester read this and find out the truth about Leslie Chambers and don't remember him for being a ghost that haunts the auditorium, but of a young life cut short.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Was Visalia's Mooney Mansion haunted by the spirit of a little girl?

Statue of Hugh Mooney and his favorite hunting dog, located in
Mooney Grove Park. - Image courtesy of Visit Visalia.

If you've ever visited Visalia there's a good chance you have been to or at least driven by Mooney Grove Park; so named for Hugh Mooney who donated 100 acres of his ranch to act as a park in 1909. For over a century the park has hosted many gatherings and since 1948 has been home to the Tulare County Museum. But there is another location that was associated with Mr. Mooney. His home. And it was said to be haunted.

The house itself was located on Court Street and changed ownership through the years after Mr. Mooney passed away. Sometime in the 1980's the owner turned the mansion into a boarding house that had nine bedrooms with a common bath and kitchen facilities. One of the upstairs bedrooms was turned into a billiards room complete with an antique table. Also, downstairs in the main foyer there was an antique jukebox that played an old selection of 78 rpm records.

But in the evenings for many years, random thumps would be heard from the upstairs billiard room usually right before or after midnight. The inhabitants of the house would go upstairs to investigate and when the opened the door and entered the room they would find billiard balls and cue sticks on the floor; the balls were usually stored a wall rack with the cues or left in the table pockets. This happened on many occasions and once it was said that when the people entered the room to check on the noise the balls were still moving as if they had just been touched.

Even more interesting is that the antique juke box would randomly play, and usually around the early dawn hours. It got so bad that the owner started to leave it unplugged during the summer months when the occurrences were more likely to happen.

Curious as to what was causing all the strange activity, the owner of the house started to research the history of the home. After talking with several historians at the Tulare County Museum they discovered that sometime in the early 1930's a young girl, about the age of 6, had died in one of the upstairs bedrooms from some type of lung malady. She wasn't a member of the Mooney Family, but it's believed that she might have been the daughter of two San Francisco socialites who had come to Visalia to visit the Mooneys. Her full name is unknown but the owner was able to discern that her first name was April and her last name was Mc-something. It's said that her body was buried somewhere on the property, but there has been no documentation to prove this.

The strange occurrences seemed to stop sometime in 1990's when the property was sold numerous times and the interior of the house was gutted for refurbishment. During demolition an old doll was discovered in one of the walls in what was the billiard room. The doll was given to the Tulare Historical Society and was able to be dated to being made sometime in the 1920's and was made in a factory in San Francisco.

Was the little girl haunting the room where her doll was at because she wanted it back? That could explain the odd sounds and objects being moved. But what of the antique jukebox playing on random (was it playing Queen?) down in the foyer? Perhaps the little girl liked to listen to music. It is interesting to note though that the activity stopped when the doll was found. I wonder since the doll was given to the Tulare County Museum to put on display, is there any activity there now?