by Alexandra Zayas
They canvassed the old A. Santaella & Co. Cigar Factory on Armenia Avenue, Tampa, Florida, seeking signs of the supernatural.
|[Times photo: Brian Cassella]
The Tampa Ghost Watchers group wanders through the Santaella Cigar Factory building on N. Armenia Ave during a break in their Saturday night meeting. They met there to plan future ghost investigations.
Claire Castillo snapped photos of a windblown window curtain to capture orbs, spirits in the form of light. Matt Wiley called to mind the emotional history contained within the walls. Janet Henderson suddenly smelled dirt and rust. Possibly the presence of a long-gone cigar roller?
The factory was the perfect place to start their search.
Locals who felt a pull toward the paranormal recently joined on MeetUp.com to form Tampa Ghost Watchers to investigate and document hauntings in homes and landmarks around the Tampa Bay area.
They met for the first time three weeks ago at Al Lopez Park to share their ghost experiences and trade ideas of places to investigate.
|Many members of the fledgling group say they have experienced afterlife interactions and want to learn more about the supernatural.
Next they plan to investigate Fort De Soto Park and the Sunshine Skyway bridge, two sites with histories of reported deaths and reputations as haunted hot spots in the ghost-hunting community.
They'll use cameras and audio equipment to capture orbs and electronic voice phenomena (EVP).
At their second meeting last Saturday, about 17 Ghost Watchers set rules to make sure people would take them seriously.
Rule No. 1: Don't take off running and screaming if something freaks you out.
Rule No. 2: Be quiet and log everything. On tape, a cough could be confused with an EVP.
Rule No. 3: Don't goof off.
"We're not the Ghostbusters," Wiley said. "We're not going to show up with a toaster oven and say it's a ghost trap."
Some of the new Watchers are just curious.
Henderson hopes to encounter her great great-grandfather W.B. Henderson (as in the boulevard) during investigations of his old Tampa building on Tyler Street downtown and Oaklawn Cemetery on Morgan Street, where he was buried.
Others, such as Wiley, have travelled Florida documenting their spooky sightings. All have stories that led them to seek connections with the beyond. Here are a few of them.
"The main message I get is that love and life and the connection you have with your loved ones goes on forever."
- Claire Castillo
Story continues at: sptimes.com