TAMPA, Fla. — Most of us love a good ghost story. Many are passed down for generations, and many hold a grain of truth.
So, whether you believe in ghosts or not, these anecdotes can teach us a thing or two about the history of a person or place. And, it's good to know you can treat yourself to your own ghost tour of some of Florida's most haunted places with the help of a new book.
Mark Muncy is a St. Petersburg-based author who just released his third book "Creepy Florida." He has been researching scary stuff most of his life, trying a conquer a childhood fear.
"I remember going up in the attic and seeing this shadowy shape on the floor with glowing red eyes and that stays with me," Muncy said. "I have nightmares about it to this day."
For years, during October, he would transform his St. Pete home into 'Hellview Cemetery' and do tours for donations to charity.
"We got to the point where we were having about 5,000 people a weekend charging through my backyard, so the city shut us down, victim of our own success," he explained.
He had based his haunted house on true stories, and people still wanted to hear them. So he started writing them down.
"My wife Kari and I started traveling. Went five thousand miles, never left the state and got our first book out of it and now we've done that trip about five times," he said.
We talked about his new book, "Creepy Florida" at the Cuban Club in Ybor City. It's widely considered one of the most haunted places in America.
"There was the lady in white at the top of the stairs. There was the actor [who] killed himself in the theater. Downstairs, you could go in this pool and this one boy named Jaime, he passed away in there and every night they still leave a little ball for him," Muncy said.
Just down the block at the Don Vicente, ghosts of a nurse and crazy doctor haunt the basement.
"People would see these figures walk through the hall dragging something with them, and it was a nurse and a shadowy man; and they would walk right up to the wall and disappear," he said.
The Sulpher Springs tower you see driving along I-275 was flooded along with a lot of businesses in the 1930s just before the Great Depression.
"So a lot of business owners took their lives from that convenient tower, and now ghosts are seen falling to their deaths over and over again from that tower," he said.
But one of the scariest places Muncy has been is at a train trestle bridge that crosses the Hillsborough River in Rowlett Park. A man was supposedly killed during its construction. To this day, people tell the story of a man out on that bridge calling for help trying to lure someone out there. When they go, they say the man turns into a huge spidery creature. And if a train comes, the person apparently has to jump or brave the monster.
"Now there's a lot of disappearances in that area, there's a lot of suicides off that bridge throughout history," Muncy said.
With all these stories, I had one last question for Muncy. Does he believe in ghosts?
"I've got to say we have had some crazy experiences," he said.
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