HalloScream: Putting the paranormal in Halloween

Bill Hancock
Runnels County Register
Natalie Jones of Ghost Girls watches her screen during a paranormal investigation at the Olde Park Hotel in 2019. The hotel hosts an annual haunted house on Halloween weekend. The event, dubbed HalloScream, continues to grow in popularity.

There are haunted locations throughout the world, but not all of them have a haunted house on Halloween. Ballinger's Olde Park Hotel is considered to be one of the most haunted places in the US. The hotel has attracted paranormal investigators from Hollywood to the East Coast.

Hollywood actor Chad Lindberg of The Fast & the Furious, Supernatural, CSI, and other movies and television shows, has conducted two investigations at the hotel. He will be returning for another investigation in November. Popular ghost hunters, the Klinge Brothers, have filmed episodes of their show at the hotel. It's also attracted Jack Osbourne, son of Ozzie Osbourne has conducted a paranormal investigation at the location. The spooky establishment has been featured on more than a few television shows.

Halloscream, October 29 & 30

This year the hotel will host their 6th annual Halloscream Haunted House, "This Halloscream is called ‘The Inferno.' People will feel like they have entered an inferno. There are many new things to really make people jump and scream even louder than before," says Dan Lafave, who owns the hotel along with his wife, Connie.

The last 5 years of the event have seen lines formed all the way down the block and around the corner as people yearn to get in for a night of fright, "The event has always been successful and seems to grow more every year," Lafave commented.

Lafave was asked what it is about the place that brings people back to the building were every dimension is seemingly haunted, "We think it’s the sheer fun that people have enjoying Halloween inside Halloscream each October on Halloween weekend. We do our best to bring a new Halloween experience each year that people will really enjoy and remember. We were told by many of our Halloscream attendees last year that they weren’t sure if they could make it through. The attendees tell us that they can’t wait for it. It’s become a tradition for many."

Halloscream will be the Friday and Saturday of Halloween weekend.

COVID couldn't stop the thrills of Halloscream

The event even survived COVID-19 in 2020, "Funny thing is, last October, we thought we would have a bad Halloscream with Covid measures, but it turned out to be our busiest and most successful Halloscream than ever. Our waiting line went around the corner last year, all night. We let people decide whether they wanted to wear a mask or not. We maintained the Covid recommended distancing. We follow state recommendations. We have a lot of exciting events coming up, including Chad Lindberg next month on November 13th and Mustafa Gatollari & Brandon Alvis from Ghost Hunters on December 4th. We also have a new soon-to-be announced television show featuring the Olde Park Hotel building coming out. It will feature someone well-known in paranormal television."

Some might think that the specters, ghosts, and others ethereal manifestations of the dearly departed may become more active on the day that hearkens back to Celtic medieval days. Lafave says that it's just another day at the hotel, "The spirits are always quite active here. This old building is definitely living up to its given distinction as to being in the top ten Texas most haunted locations - this is coming from the personal experiences by people visiting here."

The hotel has a steady stream of requests for ghost hunts. Lafave says that the number of requests continue to increase, "Due to how busy the building has become on groups actually coming and booking the building year-round, we try to fit in evening ghost hunts for people when we can depending on scheduling and availability. We really have become very busy and most people don’t realize how busy we really are now. We book out months now 6 months in advance. We try to fit things around our overnight group bookings which is not always easy. We have people booking overnight and coming from all over the United States now."

Actor Chad Lindberg conducts a ghost hunt at the Olde Park Hotel in Ballinger in 2019. The hotel, considered one of the most haunted locations in the country, hosts an annual haunted house on the weekend of Halloween. The event is called Halloscream and draws in visitors from Midland to Brownwood to San Angelo.

A brief history of Halloween

Some Halloween trivia, according to History.com: "The tradition originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in), when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints. Soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a day of activities like trick-or-treating, carving jack-o-lanterns, festive gatherings, donning costumes and eating treats.

The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago, mostly in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1.

This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.

In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort during the long, dark winter.

To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes.

When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter."

Halloscream, what you need to know.

Lafave details what he says that people should know about the event: "The cost of Halloscream 6 is still just $10 per person. We again highly recommend that people buy their tickets online directly through the Olde Park Hotel website at www.OldeParkHotel.com so that they can get that special VIP to the front of the Halloscream line status. That waiting line last year was long because all those people were buying tickets at the door which is fine…if you want to wait.

All VIP people get to go to front of line when arriving. It’s really a great benefit. Halloscream 6 will be at the Olde Park Hotel building on both Friday October 29th and Saturday October 30th from 7:30 PM till 1:00 AM.

Last year a lot of people waiting in line decided to try to call us to purchase VIP. It’s too late by then and we are way too busy to answer that phone which will just go to voicemail. Everyone should think ahead and purchase tickets online in advance if they want that VIP status.

We thank everyone because this is our big annual fundraiser event for this old building to help with things."