Downtown Kent frequented by more than brewed spirits

Laura Lofgren

Outside of Spin-More Records in downtown Kent, a crowd consisting of couples and families gathered to walk to five supposedly haunted bars. The air was warm, and curiosity and fright hung in it. At 9:27 p.m. a train blared its horn as we waited to head to our first stop, The Pufferbelly LTD Restaurant.

Richele Charlton, assistant director to the Kent Stage, addressed the crowd and told us we were in store for a wonderful evening filled with ghostly tales and brewed spirits. Charlton organized the Haunted Pub Crawl.

The Pufferbelly

Cheryl Cone, a volunteer to the Kent Stage, led our group to the farthest back room inside the Pufferbelly, where the Spiritual Insight Ghost Hunting Team had a computer and a storyteller waiting, along with Octoberfest beer samples.

An employee wrote out the story of a girl who was killed by a train. She was parked on the tracks with her boyfriend, drinking. She fell asleep and was unable to be woken up by the train’s horn or by her boyfriend, who jumped out of the car and fell into the river. The train instantly killed the girl, and her ghost haunts the Pufferbelly.

An old train conductor is said to haunt the restaurant, too, as he loved the station so much he refuses to ever leave.

After the creepy stories, S.I.G.H.T. people discussed the differences between mists and orbs that appear in photographs. S.I.G.H.T. is a group of spiritual investigators from Akron, Cleveland and Canton, Ohio that uses photography, EVP recording, dowsing rods and various other energy-sensing equipment to find spirits and help them “pass on.”

Upon looking at the several ghostly photographs, one team member explained that orbs and mists are the energy of spirits trying to materialize — some stronger than others, which is why some form orbs and others mist.

The rest of the group finished up their beers, and we filed out of the restaurant, everyone looking around for a sign of the old conductor.

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Other than a wide selection of beer and food, Ray’s Place has haunted stories, too. As we walked to the second floor of the bar, we were greeted by another round of beer samples, dowsing rods and crystals.

Before getting to the paranormal gear, the story of Gerty was told. This elderly spirit worked in the kitchen of Ray’s since it opened in 1937. She created the recipe for the chili Ray’s serves to this day. She had such a connection to the restaurant/bar that she is said to still wander the second floor and the kitchen, her footsteps and shadows seen by employees as they clean up for the night.

The moose that hangs above the bar is said to haunt Ray’s, too. At night, the clumsy sound of hooves can be heard, echoing throughout the space. It is said the clip-clop sound comes from the moose that Ray, the original owner, shot and beheaded. The moose still comes back, looking blindly for its head.

Jennifer Jakubek, a Reiki healer and crystal therapist, showed us how to use an amethyst crystal to speak to spirits. Depending on the holder of the crystal, the way in which it spins determines if a spirit is saying “yes” or “no” to a question.

We were then given dowsing rods, which are brass pieces of metal bent at a 90-degree angle at one end. This end is then strung with beads. The purpose of the dowsing rods is to ask yes or no questions.

Melissa McFadden, who was on a date with her boyfriend, stood firmly on ground, holding the rods straight in front of her. After determining which movement was yes and which was no, she asked if the Browns would win their game Sunday. She asked three times, with all three times answering yes. Gerty must like football. Or maybe it was the moose.

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Leaving Ray’s and rounding the corner to the Zephyr, we were greeted by two psychic mediums, including Laura Lyn, who has been able to see spirits since she was 5 years old.

For each group member, they read one card from a pile set in front of them at the small tables surrounding the bar.

Charles Danker of Mantua was told he’d be taking a trip in the next few months.

After his reading, Charles told me of his own personal paranormal experiences.

“My wife died seven years this Christmas,” he said. “I see her ghost.”

Charles told me how his wife, who was in poor health, promised to get rid of the other ghosts inhabiting their home once she passed away.

“She’s the only one there now,” he said.

After another round of free beer samples, Lyn described her own personal experience on the third floor.

It was July 4 when she went upstairs to the third floor to watch the fireworks. Alone, she could hear the clinking of glasses and the clicking of women’s heels. She said she could feel the energy of women having a party in celebration of the night.

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Professors Pub

Brad Powell, owner of Professors Pub, has only been there four years. But he said he has seen a lot of activity since he first moved in. The basement, which is where we were led to, is notorious for orbs and ghastly mischief.

“We’ve had problems with light bulbs going out,” Powell said. Living above the bar, Powell said he didn’t believe there were actual ghosts in the pub until he saw a light switch flick on without a tangible soul touching it.

Professors Pub is more than 100 years old and used to be a drug store in its early years. For years, paranormal investigators have been searching the basement for evidence, which is not lacking.

One S.I.G.H.T. member actually picked up two names of spirits while down in the basement Saturday night, while a group participant took several photographs of orbs.

After a bartender set out a round of Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest, we made our way to All Folked Up.

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Kent Stage’s All Folked Up

By far the scariest place in Kent is underneath The Kent Stage. The “tunnels” intertwine underneath the stage in dimly lit, cold concrete hallways. Once we made our way around to an old dressing room, a long-time worker told us stories of one of the most haunted places in Kent.

A personal tale, our storyteller told us of the night he went in the theater area to obtain some items for the bar. On his way up the aisle, he saw a silhouette of a man in the far-right balcony.

“I got goose bumps on my arms the size of pumpkins,” he said.

This shadow, our storyteller said, was that of Woody, a high school student that worked at the Stage. Woody returned from the military to work and died at The Kent Stage.

His spirit is just one of many that still haunts the old theater.

As we hear these tales, everyone is on their last sample of pumpkin ale, all looking rather tipsy.

We thanked Richele and our storyteller for their time and exited up the musty stairs into the theater. My stomach turned and I look up to the balcony where Woody was supposedly standing. Relieved, I saw nothing, and the photographer and I entered into the cool night’s air.

A group member followed us, who sarcastically said, “I didn’t see any ghosts.”

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Contact Laura Lofgren at [email protected].