Written by Chris Boyle, email@example.com Friday, 01 November 2013 00:00
Every community has its share of the dark and unexplained; every region has its urban legends and spook stories spoken about in hushed whispers.
However, the Shadows of the Paranormal (SOP), a brave and intrepid group of spiritual sleuths, are casting light on Long Island’s darkest corners with a series of investigations and lectures on the subject of the macabre.
In a recent public seminar entitled “Haunted Long Island” held at the Massapequa Public Library’s Bar Harbour branch, SOP co-founder Brian Turnof of Plainview explained the genesis of his group, which was based upon their mutual fascination of the unknown.
“We’ve been together since September of 2011,” he said. “We were all good friends and had been investigating the paranormal individually for several years, and we wanted to join together as a group and see what happened.”
There are several different fields of studies within the paranormal field; SOP focuses mainly on ghosts, hauntings, and spirits, both locally and nationwide, and Turnof said that there is proof of such phenomena throughout many different parts of Long Island.
“There are a lot of historical stories that support haunted claims in the area,” he said. “We’ve investigated a restaurant called Villa Paul in Hampton Bays that has some pretty good haunted claims to it...we were using a flashlight to communicate with a spirit using something called the direct response method, and the spirits responded to about 80 percent of our questions.”
SOP co-founder Chris Vickers of Central Islip supported Turnof’s claim of genuine spiritual activity in the Long Island area, although true, legitimate hauntings are admittedly rare, he said.
“There are a few places that we’ve investigated over the years that strongly support claims of hauntings,” he said. “There are a handful of places on Long Island that we’ve gotten strong data from, but apparitions – the visual image of a ghost – those are very hard to find.”
“We’ve investigated a few houses in Massapequa, and we’ve gotten a few results,” Vickers added. “However, we haven’t investigated a lot of urban legends here yet. But if someone wants us to come and investigate something, we will...free of charge.”
Another SOP co-founder, Carolyn Braband of West Hempstead, has had several chilling experiences ever since she began ghost hunting; her drive to do so was initially spurred on by the deaths of several close friends in high school, she said.
“I’ve been investigating for five years, and I’ve never actually seen an apparition,” she said. “I’ve been touched, scratched, I’ve felt things and been in scenarios where I couldn’t explain the things that were happening, such as Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) or audio, things that we could hear, but I’ve never actually seen anything.”
SOP’s lecture at the Bar Harbour library included a discussion, videos, and slideshow photographs of Long Island’s many haunted hot-spots, including areas such as Huntington’s Mount Misery, Kings Park Psychiatric Center, the so-called Amityville “Horror House,” and several other locations.
Loraine Zaseratos from Massapequa was one of many attendees at SOP’s lecture, and she said that a lifelong fascination with spiritual matters fueled her desire to learn more about the subject.
“I’ve lived here for almost 40 years, and when my family lived in Queens, we always spoke about strange happenings in the houses in my neighborhood,” she said. “When I moved to Long Island, I found many interesting places to go and visit, and I want to learn more about the paranormal...I definitely do believe in ghosts and spirits. However, I wouldn’t want to investigate them directly like these people...that’s a little too frightening.”
Vickers said that, for an aspiring paranormal researcher, the most important piece of advice he could dispense to simply know what you’re doing; that means getting to intimately know the location you’re investigating before you ever get there.
“The biggest part of investigating is research,” he said. “A lot of people watch television shows but that’s not what happens in the field...you have to do the research, know the history of the place, because then you’ll know what questions to ask that are related to that location when you’re trying to communicate with a spirit.”
“Just be open to the possibility that something could be happening,” added Turnof, the group’s resident skeptic. “Most likely, it’s just going to be some kind of environmental factor that’s causing disturbances, but try and be both skeptical and spiritual so that you have both of those perspectives...in paranormal investigating, you can’t have one without the other.”
If you want to learn more about the Shadows of the Paranormal, visit their website at www.shadowsoftheparanormal.com.