While the Historic Downtown is at the height of the tourism season, many are drawn to Bethlehem by its ghost stories, sightings and investigation packages not just the holiday baubles and .
“Paranormal tourism is up and coming,” said Kim Lilly, executive Vice President at Discover Lehigh Valley. “No matter which channel you go on, there seems to be another show about ghost hunting.”
Jason and Grant the famed investigators of The Transatlantic Paranormal Society (T.A.P.S) featured on , brought their paranormal investigation gear and braved the darkness of the and the this past fall. Their findings will be revealed on the SyFy Channel at 9 p.m. tonight for the season finale aptly named Christmas Spirits.
The historical grounding of these ghostly apparitions was previously documented by and Dana Devito in the book , among other local authors, attracting attention to the Bethlehem for more than its old world holiday charm.
Carol King, the shipping manager at the Book Shop and employee for the past 16 years, says she has experienced more than one fright. She said Ghost Hunters searched the basement, third floor and a stairway.
“In my office there is a stair well, it sounds like footsteps. I can see a shadow or something brushes my hair. I have even heard my name, ‘Carol, Carol.”
Being the shipping manager, she is surrounded by empty boxes and packing supplies. “Usually boxes fall off the sides," King said. "I see the middle box literally go up, over and down.”
She now has suspended a myriad of objects from the ceiling, “booby traps” as she calls them, to help warn her if the ghosts are near.
“I keep my door open,” said King. “You can feel it, like there is someone standing right over me.”
In a previous interview with the keeper, , he said, “One ghost hunter said that there is more activity than in the Eastern State Penitentiary. They are happy ghosts; they love to talk.”
Activity has been recorded by other paranormal investigators, including over 20 electronic voice phenomenon (EVP). The Great Room and the third floor have generated the most paranormal activity, allegedly with the ghosts of Hughetta Bender, a philanthropist who worked tirelessly to save the Sun Inn from disrepair, and Sarah, a little girl who was possibly a previous inn keeper’s daughter.
This show has the potential to not only be frightening, but profitable for the Downtown as the ghost sightings have generated a flurry of tourism and activity without which places like the Sun Inn “have doubled their revenue through Ghost Tours” said Lilly.
Lilly said that Discover Lehigh Valley has “ to check out on their Stay & Investigate tours.” These are among the 80 locations within the greater Lehigh Valley that claim have been linked to the paranormal either historically or recent activity.