Exploring downtown haunts

Marie Havenga • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:46 AM

She also has evidence of items flying off store shelves. One episode was caught on surveillance video last spring (see it at youtube.com/watch?v=Xpyak84z_Qo).

The canine gift store is one of the stops for this weekend's ghost tour hosted by the local Gathering Research and Stories of Paranormal Phenomenon group.

“Sometimes you feel like you're not alone in here,” said Christiansen, who added she has an open mind but isn't certain she believes in ghosts. “Things have always kind of moved and crinkled here. You just kind of write it off.”

Last May, her surveillance video captured doggie tutus inexplicably falling from a display. The store was closed and no one was inside.

“It was hours after we closed,” said Christiansen, adding that the time stamps in the video are not correct. “The tutus aren't silky, they don't just slide. It was odd and I was baffled.

"I've also had things fall off the shelves," she said. "I come in the next morning and, if you estimate where it should have landed, it didn't land where it should have. I don't know why things fell to begin with, but if they just toppled to the floor they would be a lot closer to the shelves than they end up being.”

Christiansen said she'll be taking a ghost tour this weekend — out of curiosity.

“I don't know how much weight to put into all of it,” she said. “This stuff that's happening isn't hurting me. I'm not too concerned about it.”

Bill Jones, spokesman for the local ghost-hunting group, said the tutu incident happened hours after his members conducted an investigation of the strange pet store happenings.

“The entrance to one of the old tunnels in Grand Haven is in her basement,” Jones said. “We dug into the dirt and found a couple of old letters from a private in World War II writing home to his parents. We also found an old dress shoe.”

It was the shoe that gained traction with the paranormal researchers. Jones said his group set up a digital voice recorder and asked questions to the empty air.

“When we started talking about the shoe, we found we got an EVP (electronic voice phenomena) of a male voice who said, 'I could have had it,” Jones said. “We got some strange EVPs in there.”

Jones said Ed Kinkema ran a butcher shop in that building from 1900 to 1940.

“We have not been able to determine when he died or where, but we believe the haunting is Ed Kinkema,” Jones said.

The 45-minute walking tours will blend hauntings and history with stops at the Pavilion Wharf Deli, The Kirby House, Depot Museum, the former piano factory and various other haunts.

Jones said The Kirby House, 2 Washington Ave., used to have a third floor. A woman named Emily reportedly fell down the stairs, broke her neck and immediately died.

“The ghost of Emily gets seen quite a bit there,” he said. “Kirby also has a couple of children ghosts that people see but don't know a whole lot about.”

The basement of the Pavilion, 18 Washington Ave., contains a prohibition-era vaudeville stage. People have reported seeing apparitions on the stage, only to have them disappear upon second glance, according to Jones.

A tentative tour stop is Old Things, 220 Washington Ave. A mysterious tombstone resides in the basement bearing the name Stephen P. Hogg, 1866-1928.

“We're trying to find out how it got there,” Jones said. “It's been quite the battle trying to figure it out.”

Old Things employee Lisa Jamieson said she's fine with the mysterious memorial marker a floor beneath her. She said she hasn't experienced any paranormal activity at the antique store.

“It doesn't bother me at all,” Jamieson said. “I keep my eye out for strange things, but nothing so far.”


What: Ghost tours in downtown Grand Haven.

When: 7-11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

Where: Meet at the Elks Club, 15 S. Third St.

How much: $5 per person, free for children age 4 and under. Purchase tickets at the Elk's Club or online in advance at www.GRASPP.info.

Tips: Wear comfortable shoes. You'll be walking for 45 minutes to an hour. The tour is stroller-, wheelchair- and family-friendly.

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