Fright Night has long been known as a Halloween staple to thrill seekers in central Illinois and beyond, but event organizers never expected to be the scared ones.
When Vicky Tyler and her fiance, Michael Janssens, purchased an old house in Forest City two years ago, they saw it as the perfect addition to Fright Night. They may have gotten more than they bargained for, according to the Illinois Ghost Seekers Society, a local team of paranormal investigators.
The house, and the paranormal investigators who claim there's evidence of otherworldly activity, will be featured this fall on "My Ghost Story," a television show that airs on A&E's Bio Channel.
Tyler called in the ghost seekers society when employees began reporting strange incidents, even by the standards of people who work in the haunted house industry.
"People were being pushed around, hearing whispers, and one girl said she was pushed down the stairs," said investigator Krystal Depew.
She and Amanda Johnston, another one of the 10 members of the ghost seekers society team, performed their first investigation in August 2010 and came back for more in October. They submitted evidence of their findings to A&E, and the two women were flown to Los Angeles to give a firsthand account of their experience.
This week, "My Ghost Story" sent a cameraman to film the house and interview people involved with the Fright Night house. Depew and Johnston re-enacted pieces of their investigation in the basement of the house. That footage, as well as parts of their original evidence, will air with the show.
Depew and her husband, Rob, along with two other team members, began the ghost seekers society in November 2009. It has since expanded, and Krystal Depew quit her job so she could put all of her focus on paranormal investigating.
All of the publicity from the show has Tyler anticipating huge crowds at this year's event.
"My happy juices are flowing," said Tyler.
She's been running Fright Night for 21 years and serves as the president of the board. Her brother, Toby Tyler, and his team do all of the construction inside the house and design the maze of blood, gore and horror visitors navigate through in October.
"We're into scaring people," said Toby, but this time it's different. "After they show you the things they've found, you'll be scared to go in it."
Fright Night runs every Friday and Saturday night in October and this year begins Sept. 31.
Toby wants visitors to know just one thing: "This place is haunted."
Sarah Garfinkel can be reached at 686-3188 or firstname.lastname@example.org.