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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

What’s so paranormal about the activity in DeKalb?

The Egyptian Theatre sits under a cloudy sky. DeKalb county residents share their ghostly stories with the Northern Star. (Michael Mollsen | Northern Star)

Editor’s note: This article does not claim that ghosts are real.

Who you gonna call when there’s something strange in our neighborhood? Local residents share their ghostly stories, showing that in DeKalb, things that go “bump in the night” are no strangers.

Establishments in the area are known for supposedly having paranormal activity. The ghostly experiences have even ghost investigation groups have been through DeKalb County to investigate.

Some of these areas include the Egyptian Theatre, the Ellwood House, the Sandwich Opera House, the former Fargo Hotel and Bloods Point Road, all of which have been cited as having some sort of paranormal activity, according to DeKalb County Online.

The Egyptian Theatre is one of the well-known “paranormal” sites.

Nora Reeves, the box office manager for the Egyptian Theatre, said there are an unlimited amount of ghosts, and that people see many different figures.

Reeves said it is common knowledge around the theater that there are supposedly six main ghosts, including a woman in a long green dress, a janitor (who may go by the name “Charles”), a little girl who lurks in the lobby, a woman and a little boy who hang around together by the dressing room bathroom and a ghost named “Irv.”

Irvan “Irv” Kummerfeldt, a NIU journalism professor and a co-founder of the Preservation of the Egyptian Theatre (PET), died of a heart attack in the Egyptian Theatre’s auditorium in 1988, according to the Northern Star.

“He just goes around to make sure that everybody’s doing what they need to do,” Reeves said. “Especially when we just did the restoration a couple of years ago, he was around a lot then, and you see him wearing his, like, mechanics where that one piece jumpsuit zips at the front. That’s what he always wears, and he goes from the theater to the concession stand, to the theater, to the concession stand. And I’ve actually seen him on numerous occasions.”

Reeves said the woman in green may have been here before the theater was.

“I think that she’s looking for something. She passed away before there was something important in her life, so I think that’s why she’s here,” Reeves said. “I think that she goes back further than before the theater was here. Theater opened in 1929, and I think from the outfits that I’ve seen her where it goes back to almost, like, civil war.”

According to Reeves, the theater staff’s experiences with these ghosts seem more mischievous rather than the stereotypical idea of being evil. Things like doors moving, seeing things out of the corner of your eye, hearing voices or music or playfully moving objects around.

“They’re happy, ” Reeves said.

Another theater in DeKalb County, the Sandwich Opera House, apparently has a similar paranormal situation.

“We have had people that have told us they’ve seen a ghost, and we’ve had incidents where people have felt their presence and have heard or seen things move,” Rick Crissip, president of the board of directors of The Sandwich Opera House, said.

Just like the Egyptian Theatre, the encounters at the Sandwich Opera House are reported to be harmless.

Chissip said he has dealt with paranormal experiences numerous times. 

“I was here by myself. It was late at night. I took the elevator down to the basement. I opened the door. I heard kids giggling,” Chrissip said. “I searched the basement. There was nothing in the basement. There was nobody. There was nobody upstairs, nobody in the auditorium. The place was empty.”

Crissip said staff at the Sandwich Opera House have noted a couple ghosts around the theater, including a woman in an 1800s garb and some kids.

“I think you have a couple reasons that you end up with ghosts,” Crissip said. “And I believe one of them is through tragic. Perhaps somebody’s died here for some reason, or murdered or some of those haunted houses they talked about. But, I think you also have ghosts that will appear or things because it’s more of a happy place, and it’s a place they like to come to, and they like to be here and be involved with to have the shows going on, and so I think they’re here for enjoyment.”

But what about more sinister ghosts like the type seen in movies?

If one were to dare to seek them out, look no further than Bloods Point Road.

Amber Robarge-Tazelaar, a member of Ghost Head Soup, a paranormal investigative team around DeKalb County, said she believes Bloods Point Road has a demonic entity as well as angry spirits.

“It was a windy day. One side of the bridge was massively windy, and once when we crossed the bridge we got out of our car and there was no wind at all –just completely gone somehow. But yet, we could see the trees on the other side moving so we’re like, okay, how is that possible?” Robarge-Tazelaar said.

Alongside being a member of Ghost Head Soup, Robarge-Tazelaar is also a Satanist, a religion where its followers can be more in tune with demonic presences. She also claims to have a gift for connecting with spirits since she was three.

“I can sense them, and I can sense their energy,” Robarge-Tazelaar said. “Every once in a while, I do get pictures in my head.” 

Robarge-Tazelaar said that although DeKalb may have a lot of spirits or entities, people might be bringing spirits with them.

DeKalb residents who are looking to get an up-close “experience” with ghosts can do so by registering for the Egyptian Theatre’s BOO’ze and Spirits Flashlight Tours on the theater’s website.

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