By Jeffrey V. Smith
Stephanie Waters has always been fascinated with the paranormal. The author and professional storyteller created the Spirits of Colorado Paranormal Convention three years ago for all those who are just as captivated by the supernatural. This year’s event, Sept. 12-14, takes place in locations throughout Central City.
“I have been seeing ‘ghosts’ since childhood,” Waters said, “but I believe everyone can experience the paranormal, with just a little faith and practice. My mother always chided that my sixth sense was only because she’d dropped me on the head as a baby, but my grandmother believed me because she also had what she called ‘The Shine.’”
During her college days, Waters did psychic readings to make ends meet. After getting a degree in theatre, the fourth-generation Colorado native became a professional storyteller, and in 2002 opened a haunted bed and breakfast in Manitou Springs where she was also a haunted history guide.
While recovering from thyroid cancer in 2009, she received a letter from a publisher asking if she would be interested in writing about the haunted history of Manitou Springs. She jumped at the chance. “I had always dreamed of writing, so I took a leap of faith,” the convention director said. “Haunted Manitou Springs” was soon published, followed by “Ghosts of Colorado Springs,” “Forgotten Tales of Colorado” and “Colorado Legends and Lore.”
“After becoming a writer, I decided it would be cool to launch my first haunted history book at a paranormal convention. However, the closest convention was in Chicago,” Waters said. She decided then she should create her own convention in Colorado. “Like the movie “Field of Dreams,” I thought to myself, ‘if you build it, they will come.’”
Her goal was to make the convention affordable with a co-op of paranormal professional from throughout the state. “Many of us are professional storytellers, authors, haunted historians, and paranormal enthusiasts interested in everything from Bigfoot to angels,” she said.
In an effort to network within communities, help boost the local economy, increase paranormal awareness and “dispel negative beliefs, stereotypes and fears about the paranormal,” the first Paranormal Convention and Slumber Party was held in Victor in 2012. “One of the reasons I picked Victor is because I wanted to keep our first shindig small and I needed to practice. We were shocked when 100 people showed up; many of whom drove up from Colorado Springs during an un-predicted snow storm,” Waters said. “We got snowed in and it beckoned memories of “The Shinning.” Unbeknownst to us, a covert reporter from The Denver Post was in the midst and wrote a funny story. Apparently, after the midnight séance, she and some friends were stupefied to see a fleeting spirit fly across the hotel lobby and heard strange noises coming from the office.”
The Spirits of Colorado held its second convention in Cripple Creek, because the event quickly outgrew Victor. “We scared approximately 150 victims,” Waters said. “We are hoping for 200 people this year, but can accommodate up to 400 people.”
This year’s event takes place in Central City, a town well-known for its haunted activity and abundant ghost stories. “We choose Central City for 2014 because its ideal location in the haunted heart of Colorado,” Waters said. “We also liked that Central City is a gaming town, so if people want to spend time doing other activities they are readily available. The leaves should be turning in mid-September, so it’s an ideal time for a mountain getaway.” Waters is committed to keeping the convention in a historic mining town in an effort to help the local economy and foster historic preservation.
“I started this convention as something for the community and never wanted it to be about one person or one group. I think moving it around causes a distribution of the power and makes the convention different every year,” Waters said.
The author also says some of participants also subscribe to the “relatively new theory called Quantum physics, claiming paranormal activity is more prevalent in areas with rich mineral wealth because of its strong magnetic properties.” She says there also seems to be more paranormal activity present in locations where tragedies have occurred; like in the formally crime-riddled and accident prone mining camps.
During the convention, there will be 6-8 venues and about 30 events or seminars to choose from Friday night through Sunday. Seminars are held during the day and there will be haunted history tours of the historic Teller House, Opera House and Elk’s Club with proceeds going directly to those organizations. During the evening paranormal investigations and a séance with a professional psychic are planned. There will also be a “haunted happy hour” and the paranormal challenge game where participants can win prizes.
“All of our speakers have been on television, radio or in the movies,” Waters said. “We also have several instructors who have been featured on “My Ghost Story,” “Ghost Adventures,” Paranormal Challenge,” and a psychic detective who was seen on “Good Morning America.” Participants can pick and choose which events suits them best. They are welcome to come to just one class or stay for the entire weekend.”
The main day of the event, Sept 13, Waters will be joined by other haunted history authors including Dean Sneed from Trinidad, Gail Westwood from Breckenridge and Lori Juszak from Fort Collins. The group will also be joined by haunted history tour guides from throughout Colorado and several paranormal investigation teams.
Psychic celebrity Christopher Moon travels throughout the United States, Canada and Europe demonstrating his methods for speaking to the dead. According to Waters, Moon normally charges “big bucks” for his demonstrations, so it’s a rare chance to see him at an affordable price. He will also be hosting private readings.
Having hosted paranormal activities in Central City since 1999, Dori Spence of the Society for the Prevention of the Ostracization or Obliteration of Kindred Spirits—also known as Spooks, Inc.—has teamed with Waters to help present this year’s conference. She is a psychic detective who has worked with local authorities, FBI and a national news program. Spence says Central City is the perfect location because nobody there needs convincing spirits roam the town. “Everyone believes,” she said.
Spence, who has been a medium for 50 years, explained that following the tours she conducts in She also conducts tours in Longmont, Lyons, Loveland and Erie, where participants always want to talk about the paranormal. This lead her to create a group for “ghost enthusiasts” separate from the tours, “so I’m not up until midnight answering questions.”
Seminars are about an hour long and cost $5 each. Evening events run 60-90 minutes and cost $5-$15 each. All events and sessions are cash only and professional psychic readers are priced individually. Online registration in advance is $15 per person. It increases to $20 at the door.
An early-bird package, available until Sept. 11 for $40, includes two conference registrations, an autographed copy of “Colorado Legends and Lore,” welcome letter and hotel discounts along with concession and gambling vouchers. The book, written by Waters, features more than 30 haunted tales with illustrations. It is also available separately from http://www.Amazon.com or http://www.TheHistoryPress.net.
Visit CoParanormalConvention.com for more details and information.
©MMAC Monthly – Published in September 2014 issue of the MMAC Monhtly