More than two dozen people gathered inside the Porterville Historical Museum Saturday night in hopes of witnessing the paranormal activities that have been reported in the building since its creation. 

Saturday night’s Ghost Tour, hosted by museum staff and the Porterville Ghost Society (PGS), didn’t disappoint, and brought in thrill seeking people from across the valley. 

PGS is a group of roughly 10 volunteers who hunt for ghosts in different locations. Sites they have visited include the museum, the Barn Theater and Allensworth. Tickets for the night’s event cost $20, but a “Buy 2, Get 1 Free” special was being offered. All the proceeds from the event went to the museum, and PGS was out there to help guide the group through some basic ghost hunting strategies.

The night began with an introduction to ghost hunting, and Dawn Castillo, the PGS member who acted as the tour guide, ran through a bit of evidence PGS has collected in the past. Mike Smith and Clavan Gomez, two more PGS members, were introduced, and they gave a few tips to the guests in order to amplify their ghost seeking experience. 

“If the hair on the back of your neck stands up, say something,” said Smith. “Let’s have a lot of fun.”

The tour began in the main entrance room of the museum, and Castillo set out a recorder to catch any sounds that may echo in the dark. The lights were switched off, and the room grew eerily quiet. Castillo, PGS members and a handful of guests began asking questions in the dark, trying to rouse any spirits that may have been present. 

The session in the main room was almost uneventful, until a door that had been latched shut near the back of the room opened with a creak. Every head in the room turned to the door, and Castillo requested the lights be flipped back on. She took the recorder she had placed in the room and explained that after each “listening” session, the group would go straight into the live evidence review. She hooked the recorder up to a speaker and began to play back the audio. 

Voices from group members could be heard asking questions like “Are you waiting for the train?”, “What’s your name?”, and “What is the cost of a train ticket?”. The room was deathly quiet when the audio came close to revealing the sound of the door creaking open. When that part came, the audio was rewound a handful of times so each person had a chance to clearly hear the unlatching of the door, and the creepy creak of it opening.

Roughly 20 minutes passed before the group relocated in the exhibit room in the far left side of the museum. Gomez and Smith had been doing some work in the room alone, and had reported seeing the shadow of a child hiding in the corner. As the group settled in the room, Smith introduced a ghost hunting device PGS will sometimes use called a “Boo Buddy.” The “Boo Buddy’ looked like a normal teddy bear, but it asked automated questions at random, and recorded any answers that may be given. The ghost hunting teddy bear also made comments like “That tickles” if it was touched, and would announce if the area most near it warmed up or cooled down. 

The lights were turned off and the session began. The exhibit room had been most recently used to display war memorabilia, and PGS members had done a private ghost hunting session in the room when the display was still there. They claimed to have received several hits in the room on multiple different items.

The energy amongst the group was buzzing, and the silence in the dark was intense. As question began flying from the group into the darkness, a guest gasped and said she had been touched on the leg. Castillo confirmed she, too, had been touched on the back of the head. A mother and her son both claimed to feel a heavy sadness and became dizzy upon entering the room. The moment that had hairs standing up was when a loud “Hey!” echoed through the dark building, wafting into the room as if it had traveled from the other side of the building entirely. Several group members validated hearing the voice.

The most thrilling part of the tour was taking it outside, where the soul of an old firefighter is said to remain near his fire truck. Using a device called a K2, a small handheld machine that can read the amount of energy in one spot, the group asked questions to this “fire fighter,” and in response the colored lights on the K2 spiked nearly to red, indicating the presence of an abundance of energy. The mysterious part was the K2 would only spike to red if a female had spoken to the “firefighter.” When men would speak, the K2 meter would remain on green.

The fun isn’t quite over yet either. For those who are hoping to get in on some of this spine tingling action, PGS and the museum have a second “Ghost Tour”scheduled for Saturday, October 12, beginning at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 per person, and all proceeds benefit the Porterville Historical Museum. For more information, visit the Porterville Ghost Society’s Facebook page, or check out the museum’s website at https://www.portervillemuseum.com/.

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