[10/30/08 - 12:38 AM]
Interview: "Ghost Hunters" Stars Jason Hawes & Grant Wilson
By Jim Halterman (TFC)

For the third year in a row, the Sci Fi Channel's "Ghost Hunters" will air its annual live Halloween event tonight from historic Fort Delaware in Delaware City, Delaware. Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson, who founded The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS) and investigate potential haunted locations on the series, took time away from their hunting to talk about what their hopes are with the live event as well as some of the spooky encounters they've had.

In discussing the location for the live event, Wilson said that Fort Delaware, a harbor defense facility built in 1959, was an obvious choice for this year's show. "The reason [Fort Delaware] was chosen was [because] not only was there great activity but because it's the right size, it's got a good history [and] something that we won't exhaust in the six hours on TV. And it is completely isolated because it's on an island (Pea Patch Island) so we don't have to worry about anybody sneaking up and trying to pull fast ones on us."

Though there may be much to fear in terms of potential paranormal activity at Fort Delaware, Wilson and Hawes are more realistic than fearful about the results they may or may not find during the live event. "Of course we hope that all the ghosts come out to play," Hawes said. "But we can't guarantee that, you know what I mean? These things don't work on cue... but only time will tell. We're just going to pretty much investigate like we investigate and see what comes out of it." Wilson added that the "Ghost Hunters" audience "is kind of aware that it doesn't happen all the time. So if nothing happens, hopefully we can instruct them in some kind of debunking technique or something and keep it interesting."

One way to keep things moving along for six hours is to populate the live event with guests and newbies to this arena of work. Wilson mentioned "We will have some friends on the show that are inexperienced which should keep it interesting. They should have a lot of questions and probably get spooked out so it should be good." Personal friends aren't the only ones joining the guys during this event. Hawes offered "We've got Amanda Tapping with us, the rest of the TAPS guys [and] some of our close friends from GHI, Ghost Hunters International." Tapping, star of the new Sci Fi series "Sanctuary" and veteran of the "Stargate" series will lend some star power to the broadcast much in the same way that "Eureka" star Colin Ferguson guested earlier this week on the regular Wednesday night episode.

Another way the live event will engage is by the participation of the viewers. "We actually pull the audience in as part of [the event] where they can go online," Wilson said. "They can watch special camera angles online. They can report activity." The infamous panic button is something that viewers have used in the past to staggeringly high numbers to inform Hawes, Wilson and the crew of possible activity. "[The viewers] have a panic button which was pressed, I don't know, tens of thousands of times last time when people think they see stuff. And then if it's legitimate we'll go investigate. And so it's more than just watching it. You actually are interacting and somewhat investigating with us."

As far as the actual procedure when the TAPS crew investigates a potential haunted location, delving into the past history as well as its inhabitants are the best places to start. Wilson elaborated by saying "We like to just kind of hear what the stories are of the people who were there and then research the history later. But we've found interestingly enough that a newer building can be just as haunted as an old building with a checkered past."

It should come as no big surprise that most of the places with the most happenings don't have a necessarily happy past. Fort Delaware is a perfect example. "The places that have the most tragedy to them, unfortunately, seem to have a little bit more activity... so that's why we always take places we've already investigated for the live show because we know there's activity there. We've already ´┐Żbuilt a rapport' with what may be there. But Fort Delaware hasn't really seen too much action as far as battles, though. It was mostly accidents - most of the deaths there were due to accidents. But, nonetheless, it was a prison camp at one point and that's always miserable."

When they were initially at Fort Delaware (the episode aired this past June), Hawes shared that something occurred while there, which made them realize they'd found the location for the live Halloween event. "One of the great things that we had happen was we set a camera up down a hallway," Hawes recounted. "And you were able to see something walk out about 100 feet down the hallway - walk out, turn around and walk back into what appeared to be a wall. And that's while Grant and I were heading down there. So we decided we'd set the thermal imaging camera up by itself and just let it roll for the night. And, again, about an hour or two later we were able to see a head and shoulders clear from behind the wall and pull itself back in. That was one." Hawes also shared another experience from their earlier Fort Delaware visit. "At one point, Grant and I are sitting at a table in the kitchen talking and all of a sudden it sounded like either an explosion or a loud bang happened right there, right next to us - scared the life out of both of us."

Which part of the United States sees more reports of activity according to Hawes and Wilson? Hawes revealed that at this time of year, the North Eastern states are the more active. "And the reason behind that," he explained, "is it's colder. People are in the house more often. A lot of that could be chalked up to everything from the heat turning on or the wood popping and cracking making the sound of footsteps. You're also around Halloween so it's all the scary movies, the ghost movies, everything of that nature. So it's not that real paranormal activity takes off. It's just that people's perceptions that there is more paranormal activity picks up because of that."

Hawes also cites the influence of films and television for giving ghosts a bad name and not really reflecting their experiences. "Hollywood does a great job by really sparking up the demons and everything of that nature. But, you know, out of all the cases we've done I could say out of the last 15 to 18 years that we've actually been sent in by churches to do cases... we've been sent in to really 600 to 700 church cases... maybe two of them have turned out to be negative type entities. It's just some people think that that sells so that's what they want to put out there." Hawes and Wilson are not in this business for the fame or fortune, which is obvious since they keep their plumbing jobs alongside their TAPS work. "We want to put out the truth and that's what matters to us," Hawes added.

The "Ghost Hunters" live Halloween event from Fort Delaware begins at 7:00/6:00c on the Sci Fi Channel. A one hour recorded "pre-game" show will first detail how the crew was set up at Fort Delaware followed by the six live hours of ghost hunting.

  [october 2008]  


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