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Spooks and Frights on Summer Nights

Annabella Mireles
Heather Shade and her husband Dean have been giving ghost tours and hosting spooky events for the past ten years but started doing park meetups a year ago.

Halloween came early when local legends, folklore and El Paso ghost stories were shared with the El Paso community as the sun began to set and the summer heat fizzled out. 

Ghost enthusiasts gathered at Dick Shinaut Park June 24, for the “Ghost Stories, Legends, and Lore at The Park” series hosted by Lost El Paso Paranormal. The event lasted from 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. It was a free event and attendees of all ages were invited to join in on the spooky fun. 

Heather Shade and her husband Dean have been giving ghost tours and hosting spooky events for the past ten years. However, they started doing these meetups at the park until a year ago. 

“Although we do ghost tours regularly, we often have people who can’t attend for one reason or another,” Shade said. “We wanted to do something monthly where the community could come for free and gather and share in the history, ghost stories and folklore.” 

Some stories told during the evening included the El Paso giant’s tale. The story follows the elaborate hoax that later turned into an El Paso staple. A man wanted to trick his neighbor into thinking giants were real, so he created a sculpture of a giant and buried it in his backyard for his neighbor to find. When his neighbor found the body of the giant, the local news were notified and soon after the “cart of giant” was paraded across the country for everyone to see. Once the tour ended the giant was placed in sunset heights in the Mesa Gardens, but then one day it disappeared without a trace. 

Chuco, the mascot for Lost El Paso Paranormal, joins the group at Dick Shinaut Park June 24. (Annabella Mireles)

“I have been to almost all of the tours that Heather and Dean do,” said attendee Brian Sieve. “This is my favorite paranormal group in town. There were some new stories for me tonight, I love hearing about the Mesa Gardens up in sunset heights because that place is always mentioned during the Sunset Heights tour. It was fun hearing about the cart of giant story. El Paso has the most ghosty psychic energy of any place that I’ve been.” 

Another tale told was the story of Jacob Ehrlich who was El Paso’s actual giant as he stood eight foot six and a half inches. Shade talked about the Legend of the Thunderbird, Mothman and UFO sightings as well. Shade’s husband Dean even shared his own UFO sighting story with the group there. 

One of the night’s big highlights was the stories about the infamous Plaza Theatre in downtown El Paso. Before the Plaza theatre became one of El Paso’s most well-known landmarks, it was a burlesque theatre. 

Built in 1930, it is said to have many ghosts roaming the halls. One of the famous ghost stories that occurred at the theatre, according to Shade, was the story of the haunted kewpie doll that never stood still. Other ghosts that live at the theatre are the spirits of the smoking ghost, the tall handle bared mustache ghost and the little ghost girl and her red ball. 

Shade also mentioned how famous celebrities such as Billy Ray Cyrus and Tony Bennet both had ghostly experiences when they were performing at the Plaza Theatre. 

The last story of the night was about the O.T. Bassett Tower, built by well-known architect Henry C. Trost in 1930. Shade mentioned the secret swimming pool located in the basement of the building and some spooky encounters that happened on a Halloween tour there. 

“People should be interested in the paranormal activity in El Paso because it is all around us and it’s a part of our history,” Shade said. “It’s steeped in our culture and our folklore, so it’s kind of intertwined into everything that we do.” 

Future events being hosted by Lost El Paso Paranormal include bar crawls, true crime tours, and a tour from downtown to sunset heights. The next Ghost Stories, Legends, and Lore at The Park meetup will be held next month. 

To learn more about future events being hosted by Lost El Paso Paranormal follow them on Instagram @lostepparanormal and on Facebook at Lost El Paso or visit their website.

Alyson Rodriguez is a contributor and may be reached at [email protected]; @alyson_rod1127 on Twitter. 

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About the Contributors
Alyson Rodriguez
Alyson Rodriguez, Contributor/Writer

Alyson Rodriguez is a senior at the University of Texas at El Paso, currently majoring in multimedia journalism with a minor in leadership studies. She is a contributor at The Prospector. She joined The Prospector in the Fall of 2020 as a contributor for the Arts and Culture section and has now written articles for the sports and news section and has done podcast segments as well. After discovering her passion for journalism through The Prospector, Alyson has gone to intern at El Paso Matters, NPR Next Generation Texas Newsroom and the Texas Standard. 

Annabella Mireles
Annabella Mireles, Photo Editor
Annabella Mireles is a junior at the University of Texas at El Paso majoring in digital media production and minoring in film. She is the photo editor at the Prospector newspaper and Minero magazine as well as owning her own photography business. She plans on pursuing photography full time.
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    Dean tarangoJul 11, 2023 at 10:45 AM

    Thank you, for the awesome article. ?

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Spooks and Frights on Summer Nights