Thursday 30 September 2010

Fortean/Cryptozoological Museum Display

Seminole County just got weird
October 1, 2010 By Brittni Johnson Guest Reporter
The Museum of Seminole County History is exploring a side of history that doesn't usually get much attention. It involves flying toads, river monsters and skunk apes."This is a side of history that we never talk about," said Charlie Carlson, local historian and author of several weird Florida books."The Weird, Strange and Unexplained in Seminole County" exhibit, which is open through November, features strange animals, people and happenings found in Seminole County. They range from the Florida skunk ape to local late magician Harry Wise. About a year ago, the idea came to Paul Zuromski, on the Seminole County Historical Commission, and Kim Nelson, the museum's coordinator. : Old posters and magic contraptions from the late magician Harry Wise are on display for the exhibit at the Museum of Seminole County History."In a time of budget cuts, I thought, what can we do to get some interest here?" Zuromski said.And so they contacted local weird historians Carlson and Scott Marlowe, who pulled from their own strange collections and expertise to create the exhibit. Nelson said she hopes to spark some interest with the younger crowd."The problem with history is that young people don't seem to grab onto it," she said.But that is what makes this exhibit special — it is history with a twist that will capture any imagination, Nelson said."This is really opening their minds to the possibilities," Marlowe said.The possibility of ghosts and creatures right in their own backyard is something people can't help but be drawn to. It adds spice to history, which even Nelson admits can get dry.Folklore is part of the fabric of a culture," Carlson said. "It's those things that kind of hold us together. This is our escape.""It's fun, but still historically accurate," Nelson said.So let your mind wander, and escape into something a bit different, while learning a little about Seminole County's history.Here's some of the weird stuff you'll find at the exhibit:
There's the skunk ape, "Florida's Bigfoot," a creature that looks like a big ape that walks on two legs. It's named and known for its smell, which cryptozoologist Marlowe said is like a skunk and wet dog. While the creature is thought of as a myth, Marlowe said he's seen the ape three times, once in Winter Park.
Then there's the Longwood Toad Invasion of 1982. One morning that year, residents woke up to find loads of toads had found their way to their neighborhoods. After a few days of dealing with the critters, one day the people woke up and they were mysteriously gone again. Did they fall from the sky?
Maggie Bell's Spirit Table is another oddity you'll get to see in person. Florida weird expert Carlson loaned the museum the table, which Maggie levitated.
Carlson also loaned the Red Rocker, a tiny child's rocking chair that sometimes rocks on its own. The chair was his grandmother's, and Carlson grew up seeing the chair move for no reason. It might have been just a draft, but he likes to think there's a ghost rocking the chair.
One strange happening with a spot at the exhibit is the I-4 Dead Zone, said to be an area on Interstate 4 in Seminole County where there are graves beneath the road. In that spot, people have seen ghost hitchhikers and strange orbs of light, heard unknown voices while they're on their cell phones and clear radio signals change to static. There's also a claim of a high number of accidents and deaths in this stretch.You will also find a geode from outer space, mastodon teeth, ghosts, graveyards, a river monster and some very strange people. So take some time, "suspend your disbelief," and let yourself be drawn into the tales.

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