Late night Ghost Hunting Workshop coming to the historic St. John Theatre
Published 9:53 am Friday, September 1, 2023
RESERVE — St. John Theatre managing director Amy Wombles has heard the creaking of seats going up and down when she’s the only person sitting in the auditorium. Sometimes she feels the vibration of the floor, like someone is walking up behind her, or feels something bump into her foot when there is no one around.
Originally constructed in 1931 as a movie house, St. John Theatre has long been rumored to be haunted. Next month, the public will have an opportunity to explore the 92-year-old building in the dead of night to investigate whether any lingering spirits lurk within its walls.
St. John Theatre’s first ever Ghost-Hunting Workshop will take place with demonstrations from experienced investigators from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. October 28 at 115 W. Fourth St. in Reserve. This event is for ages 13+ only, and participating minors must be accompanied by a parent.
Spaces are limited. Tickets are available for $25 at www.stjohntheatre.com.
Wombles is excited to share her ghost hunting knowledge with the community. She became intrigued by the idea of ghosts when her now 24-year-old son was younger and reported supernatural sightings within their home.
“I started taking an interest in it. Then I started going to some classes. My first actual ghost hunt was with a professional group in a plantation hunt in Natchez, Mississippi. I went in not really believing and just wanting to see what it was about, but it was really interesting. We were able to make contact and get responses,” Wombles said. “Another person involved with St. John Theatre, Shane Brooks, was interested. We started going into some of the schools in the area and we did the Theatre quite a few times. We used our equipment and got some really cool results. He’s a teacher and I’ve been busy, so we don’t do it as much anymore, but we get a ton of calls. It’s kind of hard to talk about because sometimes people think you’re crazy, but there is a lot of interest in this area. I’ve been to quite a few houses in this area where we’ve actually had some things happen.”
Wombles said the Ghost Hunting Workshop will be contained to 30 participants. If there is enough interest, the event may be broken into two nights.
The beginning of the workshop will detail the history of SJT, which initially opened as Maurin’s Theatre in the 1930s. Participants will then tour the Theatre and learn how to use various pieces of ghost hunting equipment, including EMF detectors, cameras with infrared lighting for real-time monitoring, laser lights, and sound devices with radio frequencies to communicate with spirits.
“Then we will break up into groups and show them what we normally do (on a ghost hunt),” Wombles said. “We will go through some fun ghost stories, and they will also get a snack and a gift.”
Wombles’ personal experiences with the Theatre lead her to believe any spirits that reside there are benevolent.
Some witnesses, including a police officer on a security detail, claim to have seen a woman in a white dress. The same woman has allegedly been spotted by ship workers on the river.
Strange occurrences have happened on the sets of summer productions, including props going missing and mysteriously reappearing.
Others, including St. John Theatre Board of Directors President J. Sterling Snowdy, are a little more skeptical.
“I have had no personal interaction with ghosts, but people who have told me about their experiences are pretty sure there’s a lady and two little girls who frequent the theater,” Snowdy said. “They are almost always dressed in white. Little girls are running around, laughing. We have some suspicion that they may have been related to neighbors of the Theatre, but talking about ghosts, we have no way of confirming that. It’s interesting that over the years, we have heard multiple variations of that. Myself, I have been 14 feet up in the air on a ladder at 2 a.m. by myself in the building – no ghosts.”
Professional ghost hunting crews have explored the Theatre and have reported results, and while Snowdy has not experienced any supernatural encounters, he admits it is a fascinating concept.
“We thought it was time to let the public in on it,” he said. “So far, we’ve gotten a lot of interest. If it’s successful, we may try to make this an annual event.”
The Ghost Hunting Workshop is just one of several events coming to St. John Theatre in the next few months.
Back by popular demand, Al “Lil Fats” Jackson will take the stage on October 7. Jay Dupuis, recognized by Elvis Presley Enterprises as their Ultimate World Champion Elvis tribute artist, is returning to St. John Theatre on January 20.
Also coming soon is St. John Theatre Kids, a new program for children in kindergarten through eighth grade. The children will become a cohort within the Theatre, meeting once a month with opportunities to sing and act throughout the year.
More information and tickets are available at stjohntheatre.com/boxoffice.