The Halloween Haunts of Kankakee County

Apple cider, carving pumpkins, falling leaves and with it dropping temperatures. Fall is here with Halloween also now upon us.

Halloween began as a religious festival for Celtics known as “Samhain” practiced nearly 2000 years ago when the veil between the dead and the living was thinnest. Over the years, Halloween slowly evolved into a night of fortune telling and mystery. Games such as bobbing for apples and a form of “Bloody Mary” were played by young girls hoping to predict the name of their future husband. Modern Halloween, especially in Kankakee county, looks a lot different than it did 100 years ago.

In 2018, kiddos run up and down streets, ringing doorbells and begging for candy. A Nightmare on Elm Street and Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride play on TV channels at every hour. Numerous pumpkin patches dot the countryside, serving up cups of steaming cider calling bypassers’ names and The Haunted Factory in Kankakee never fails to give a good scare.

But these haunted houses and hayrides can never live up to the spooky legends told of our own Kankakee County. One popular tale told by children and grandparents alike is the one of the woman in the Kankakee County Courthouse. Private Investigator, John Skimerhorn, who is familiar with the building after years of service, told this legend of a real-life Kankakee County haunt, “A guard caught a glimpse of a woman in white on the roof of the court house. She threw herself from the top, but when he ran to the sidewalk to check, no one was there.” There is no factual evidence behind this event, but it’s a fun story to tell regardless.

And that’s not the only story of a haunted building in Kankakee. Most Friday nights, Paramount Theatre in Kankakee can be found bustling with crowds waiting to see the newest showing and eat buttery popcorn, but excited movie-goers may not be the only things lingering in the building.  At least, the employees don’t seem to think so. Having been built in the 1930s, it’s no surprise the theatre acts as residence to spirits of those who have worked there in their previous lives. The Daily Journal, while covering the topic of the Paramount Theatre, wrote, “The employees here have all heard the story of the late janitor, George, as well as the jingle of his keys. They feel his presence as they head down the basement stairs and have even heard the swinging doors rattle when he goes behind the refreshment counter.” Writer Dennis Yohnka states in a 2010 issue of The Daily Journal. Movie-goers may want to listen closely for the sound of George’s keys next time they’re taking a lone trip to the bathroom.

Although these public buildings may be popular haunts, they aren’t the only places spirits, ghouls, and other-worldly creatures tend to reside. A student who requested to stay anonymous shared this bone-chilling story, which was experienced in a home in the Kankakee County area, “I was laying in bed looking at my clock and it was 12:30. I don’t remember falling asleep.  I saw lights that I cannot explain the color of but there was a variety. I wasn’t scared, but I could hardly think and the only things I could move were my fingers and my neck. After the lights stopped, I turned my head toward the door and I waited.” The student says that five aliens, four feet in height and identical in appearance, entered the room moments later. The creatures circled the bed and held their arms over the student’s body. The student claims they blacked out, and the next morning they awoke on top of a perfectly made bed with no recollection of what had happened.

Although some may be too fearful to attend a haunted house, investigate a UFO, or maybe even read some of the stories in this article, doesn’t mean even the weak of heart can’t get into Halloween spirit! Trick or treating, carving pumpkins, and Halloween specials are not festivities to overlook. So jam out to the Monster Mash, DIY a costume, and invite some friends over for a party. Halloween isn’t as scary as it’s made out to be…or is it?