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First ghost conference descends on Port Gamble | Halloween events in North Kitsap

The North Kitsap Eagles opened  its haunted house at the club’s Aerie on Lincoln Road Thursday night. The house is open 6-11 p.m. through  Sunday. Volunteer Emily Rose inspects a ghoulish installation.  - Brad Camp/For the Herald
The North Kitsap Eagles opened its haunted house at the club’s Aerie on Lincoln Road Thursday night. The house is open 6-11 p.m. through Sunday. Volunteer Emily Rose inspects a ghoulish installation.
— image credit: Brad Camp/For the Herald

Neil McNeill remembers his first brush with the paranormal, be it a vicarious one.

He was 6 years old when his older sister confided seeing a ghost at the foot of her bed. It was a hushed secret the siblings kept from their parents for years until, while thumbing through old family albums, they discovered a photograph of a great uncle fitting the ghost’s description.

The great uncle, they learned, appeared after death to many of the women in their family, including their mother and aunt.

“From a very early age I was very, very interested in ghosts and the paranormal,” McNeill said.

For more than a decade he has shadowed places known for supernatural happenings, collecting data he believes points to some form of existence after death. For this purpose McNeill has returned to the town of Port Gamble time and time again.

“It’s one of, if not the, most haunted towns in Western Washington,” he said.

McNeill, who teaches paranormal investigation courses in the Seattle area, will speak at Port Gamble’s first Ghost Conference on Oct. 29-30. Joining him will be folklorist Margaret Read MacDonald, psychic medium Ankhasha Amenti and Kitsap thriller writer Gregg Olsen.

Local researchers will explain technologies used to capture evidence of the paranormal and participants will go along for various field investigations.

Most conference investigations are full, but a few have a handful of spots open, said Shana Smith, who manages Port Gamble for Olympic Property Group.

The conference itself is sold out with 45 participants, five more than organizers hoped to attract at $60 a ticket. Some are amateur investigators, others are interested onlookers, and they’re coming from all over the region, Smith said.

Organizers kept the event small to preserve the purpose of field investigations, keeping them from becoming too crowded or noisy.

It’s a culminating event for an historic townsite experiencing a whole new dimension of interest. Ghost walks through Port Gamble’s aged buildings have risen in popularity since their beginnings three years ago. They are sold out through early 2011. The makers of “Zombies of Mass Destruction” brought attention to the town when they filmed their horror flick in its streets.

The Walker-Ames House especially, sitting adjacent to the town’s General Store, is the subject of much speculation by visitors who’ve heard the stories. A tug of the hair. A strange light. A woman in the attic window. The shape of a man appearing suddenly from around a corner.

“It seems to have this amazing amount of paranormal phenomenon,” said McNeill.

As the interest in paranormal activity multiplies, Port Gamble’s own mysteries evolve. Local amateur investigators regularly experience new unexplained activity, and often corroborate the experiences of others.

“Seems like I get new ones all the time,” Smith said.

Those reports help to build a case for something that may never be fully proven.

“What they find adds to this enourmous pile of evidence that suggests there is life after death,” McNeill said. “We haven’t proven that it’s actually so, but we have an enormous body of anecdotal evidence, of empirical evidence ... that suggests that something is surviving death, something with a conscious, a personality and the ability to communicate.”

Halloween Happenings in North Kitsap

Hansville Kid’s Halloween Party

Kids in costume are invited to the Greater Hansville Community Center from 6-8 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 31, for games, prizes and crafts. The event is put on by the Hansville Co-op Preschool.

Sunrise Hill Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch

Get lost in the Sunrise Hill Farm Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch this weekend at 11033 NE Tulin Road. Flashlight Maze Madness runs from dark until 9 p.m. Don’t miss the arts fair in the Big Red Barn. The farm is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Parking is free.

Trillium Haunted House

Trillium School in Indianola will be transformed into Area 51 from 6-8 p.m. Oct. 29. For information call (360) 297-3733.

Port Gamble Halloween Celebration

Pick up a passport at the Dauntless Bookstore; participating business will offer a variety of tricks and treats for visitors from 1-5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 31.

Poulsbo Preschool Spooktacular

Kids ages 5 and under receive a free punch card good for carnival games and crafts at Poulsbo Park and Recreation’s Preschool Spooktacular, from 3:30-5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 31.

Trick or Treat Front Street

Poulsbo’s Front Street will close from 4-6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 31, as downtown merchants open their doors and hand out candy to kids in Halloween costume. Visitors are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food donation for North Kitsap Fishline.

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