Members of the Texas Society of Paranormal Investigators are after one thing: answers.
When the group hosted the inaugural Texas Ghost Show last year, a crowd of more than 500 people came out to see what all the fuss was about — indicating that perhaps others have a few questions, as well.
On Saturday, March 19, the Texas Ghost Show returns to the Beaumont Civic Center for an entire day of entertainment, demonstrations and open discussions that some might normally be embarrassed to have. Experts representing studies of UFOs, Big Foot, the Loch Ness Monster, telekinesis and ghosts will be on hand, with no mystery off limits.
“This thing is open to everyone — fans, those who have questions, the skeptics who think it’s all hogwash. There will be other skeptics at the show. And if you’re a believer, there are other believers at the show,” said Don Dennis, founder and member of TSPI.
The event boasts an impressive lineup of experts of the supernatural, including psychics, cryptozoologists and leading paranormal investigators in the field including brothers, Brad and Barry Klinge from the Discovery Channel television series “Ghost Lab.”
One interesting guest scheduled to attend the convention is escape artist and supernatural skeptic Aron Houdini, whose great uncle was none other than the legendary Harry Houdini.
“I don’t know that I believe in these things; I’m just open-minded,” Aron told The Examiner. “In the last 10 years of Houdini’s life, he was always going to mediums and psychics because he believed there’s a way to contact the other side; he just never found it. I’m hopeful — something paranormal would add a whole new dimension to life in general. I’m hoping there’s a day where I can’t debunk it, and I can’t explain it.”
For Dennis, forming the group was an attempt to refine the protocols of paranormal investigation. Some of those active in the group have invested thousands of dollars in industry-standard equipment to capture photographic and video evidence and electronic voice phenomena (EVP).
“Nine times out of 10, we find a logical explanation,” Dennis said. “And in order to properly investigate, we have to exhaust all the possibilities as far as an explanation for what a person’s experiencing.”
Reported bumps in the night have been traced back to a variety of common causes, from shifty insulation to echoing structures, noisy neighbors, sneaky teenagers — even raccoons.
“You wear a lot of hats when you’re a paranormal investigator — engineer, psychologist, grief counselor, plumber, contractor. We don’t hunt ghosts; we’re more or less trying to help people find answers.”
And yet, while TSPI investigative teams will travel across the state to conduct investigations, the group will never accept compensation.
“We’re not trying to make money off this,” Dennis said. “It’s not like there’s a college where you can have a formal education in ‘hunting ghosts,’ which is why it’s important to network and fellowship with other groups, and exchange evidence from different investigations.”
Admission to the show is $20 at the door. Opportunities to meet the Texas Ghost Show speakers personally are available with VIP passes — a celebrity meet-and-greet will be held Friday, March 18, at the Eleganté Hotel at 5:30 p.m. followed by dinner for $75. And for those particularly interested in befriending the Ghost Show gang, purchasing the $160 “Super Awesome VIP Ticket” grants ticket-holders access to all Texas Ghost Show events, including the convention wrap party after the show. Funds generated will cover the cost of the event itself for the nonprofit group, and any money left over will be used by TSPI for any necessary equipment. To purchase advance tickets and VIP tickets, visit www.texasghostshow.eventbrite.com.
“In addition to the speakers, this show is just gonna be some great entertainment,” said Aron, who also plans to perform one of his more risky routines on Crockett Street on Thursday, March 17, as a promotion for the event. At 6 p.m., Aron will perform his escape from a real regulation straight jacket while hanging suspended from a crane. The escape is one of several tricks that sets Aron apart from other performers, as the rest use a specially tailored magician’s straight jacket. Aron added that the local police department has accepted his challenge to contain him in a device of their choosing. If Aron fails to escape, he will be jailed for 24 hours; if he escapes, he keeps the device to sell for charity and is never required to reveal how he did it.
Though he has sustained more than a few injuries, to date Aron has escaped every device he has attempted.
“Wake up Saturday morning with an open mind about all this for one day; if nothing else, you get a whole day of entertainment, you get to hang out with TV people and just see what it’s all about,” he said.
Psychics will also be at the show giving readings, though Aron admitted that he does not consult them the way his great uncle once did.
“I don’t believe in psychics,” he said. “That doesn’t mean I will never believe in psychics — I want to believe. It’s not as though I’m somebody they should have to prove something to, but I’d love for them to show me something I can’t explain. But I keep an open mind, because they may be right, I may be wrong. Who knows?”