The scent of candy corn in the air

October is one of my favorite months. All that crisp fall air, colorful foliage, and the return of corduroy and turtlenecks. Gotta love it.

Topping it all off is Halloween, which ranks as one of my favorite holidays. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a fan of all the rest as well. But Halloween? It’s strictly a good time. There isn’t the pressure of some of the other occasions, like finding the right gift at Christmas or spending enough quality time with the “fam” at Thanksgiving. This time of year, my biggest concern is what kind of candy I’m going to buy for the lone trick-or-treater we get every year, and what I’m going to dress up as on the big day (It will be hard to top my Sarah Palin from last year, but I’m up for the challenge.)

I’ve already broken open my first bag of candy corn in anticipation.

While I am no fan of horror movies and the like, I do like to scare myself (mildly) silly this time of year. In the past, I’ve done this by pulling out my “Thriller” soundtrack and digging into all those urban fantasy novels, ripe with vampires, werewolves and other assorted beasties.

But now, The Evening Sun takes care of putting the ghastly and ghoulish into my Halloween preparations. And this year, it’s going to be a super whammy.

Every October, the current crop of Evening Sun staffers investigates the paranormal side of Chenango County. Using mediums and card-carrying paranormal investigators as our guides, we’ve visited a number of locations in the area to look into reports of spirit activity.

Last year, during my first such excursion, we visited the Chenango County Council of the Arts building in Norwich and Baron’s Inn in Greene. I’ll be honest: I had the bejeezus scared out of me. And this year’s line up is sure to do the same.

Our first foray into the supernatural will be this Friday night, when the ES gang heads to Greene for a preview of the ghost walks Bill Lenga (that card-carrying paranormal investigator I mentioned) and his team of mediums and ghost aficionados will be conducting throughout the month. Together, armed with a few EMF meters and other tools of the trade, we’ll visit four different buildings in the Village of Greene which have been having what Bill called “problems” with their resident spirits. I believe, in reference to one of those locations, he used the word “poltergeists.” Yes, in the plural. Just thinking about it gives me chills.

At this point I’d like to issue an advanced warning to all those who will be in the Greene area on Friday night: If, on that evening, you see what appears to be a long-haired creature shrieking like a banshee, running like hell hounds are chasing her, don’t be alarmed. That’ll just be this Evening Sun reporter, freaking out.

Now, just in case that doesn’t scare us silly enough, next week we’ll be paying a little midnight trip to a local funeral home (eek!). After which we’re signed up to actually spend the night in an unoccupied portion of a private home that has seen some very active paranormal activity.

I’ve already got goose bumps.

To further add to our little fright fest, Ghastly Ghost Stories, our annual Halloween fiction contest, has returned for yet another year. Judging the “frightful” competition will be none other than yours truly and a panel of ghoulishly good experts.

While I haven’t set an exact rating scale yet, I can tell you this - if, after reading your story, I have to sleep with my light on, you’ll definitely be a finalist.

Now I suppose you’ll want all the gory details. Well, we’ll be giving out prizes in several different categories based on age: fifth and sixth grade, seventh and eighth grade, ninth through twelfth grade and adult. The ghastliest ghost story in each category (and I mean that in a good way) will have their story published in The Pumpkin Vine, and get some other cool prizes.

Entries should be 1,500 words or less and must be submitted via e-mail to, with the subject line “Ghastly Ghost Stories.” Attachments should be in a rich text format, and don’t forget to include contact information and age, as well as the school you attend and grade, if applicable.

The DEADline, a term so apropos in this instance, is Friday, Oct. 16.

Between our ghost hunting, the vast number of ghost stories we are bound to get in, and the sugar rush I’ll no doubt have after eating all this candy corn, I’ve already resigned myself to a few sleepless nights this month.

Happy haunting!

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