Hauntings of Hersheypark
Updated: Apr 23, 2019
Spring is here, and as the days begin to get longer and warmer. Family and friends begin making plans for fun in the sun. One favorite hot spot of summer fun in Pennsylvania is Hershey park, in Hershey Pa. It's known as the "sweetest place on Earth", but what happens when the crowds are gone? Are there spirits that lurk in the park, and do they come out to play when the rides are turned off, and moonlight is all that lights parks paths? Turns out, there may be quite a few, and you don't have to stay until it's dark to witness them.
I have always admired the story of Hershey's founder, Milton Hershey. He was a persistent candy maker who finally found success. Also, perhaps due to the inability to have children, he used his wealth to open a school for orphaned children, which is still open to this day. Hershey was also well aware of the needs of his employees and it was his desire to provide them with a healthy and beautiful environment unlike most company towns that were developing during that era. Milton Hershey was anxious to provide, not only a healthy and pleasing environment, but also a place for recreation. Land had been set aside for a community park, which opened to the public in the spring of 1907, becoming today's Hershey park. It is said that Milton Hershey himself still roams the grounds looking after the park. Very few have claimed to see Mr Hershey, his spirit is often smelled by the phantom smell of cigar smoke.
Carousels are a staple in amusement parks, but who claim to have a haunted one? Hersheypark can. The Carousel was built in 1919 by the Philadelphia Tobaggan Company. Hershey purchased it in 1944. Today, the carousel is famous for being one of the most active places in the park! Originally installed near Spring Creek, it was moved to Founder's Circle in 1972. Since then, park personnel have seen the carousel's lights turn on by themselves, and the ride eerily start to turn without a living soul nearby. The music coming from its Wurlitzer organ begins to drift through the park, all under the command of an unseen operator. Well, mostly unseen. There is one story where a security officer was doing his rounds, when he noticed the lights of the carousel turned on. He turned them off and began to walk away, but the lights flipped themselves back on. As the officer turned back around towards the ride, a shadowy figure of a person sitting near the controls was seen. By the time the officer actually reached the ride, the mysterious figure was gone.
A pool complex was added in 1929, consisting of a bath house and four pools with a concrete island containing a lighthouse. In 1971, the pools were filled in and all that remains is the lighthouse which can be seen near the entrance of the park, across from the Chocolate World complex. According to legend, several children drowned in the pools over the years. Their ghosts, wearing old-fashioned bathing suits and carrying beach towels, have been seen frolicking around the lighthouse, seemingly unaware of changes made through the years.
On opening day, July 4, 1977, Hershey unveiled their new roller coaster. the
SooperDooperLooper, the first looping rollercoaster on the East Coast. The coaster broke down, with the park’s CEO in the front seat, stranding the passengers on the lift hill. All the VIPs had to climb out of the train and walk down the precarious catwalks to safety. Just a month later, tragedy would strike the SooperDooperLooper.
William Harter a 16 year old high school student working at the park as a maintenance man as part of a summer vocational program. On August 25th, Harter was removing some bolts from a magnetic control device designed to stop the train. Standing between the rails with his back toward the train, it suddenly started moving and ran over him. Since the incident, many security guards, maintenance personnel, and other employees in the park after dark have seen the shadowy figure of a young man standing or walking along the rails of the coaster.
Lady of the Boardwalk
The final account comes from Christopher Wolfe's book, "Ghosts of Hershey and Vicinity". He details his interview with a park manager, who explains that, in 1970, the houses next to the park, where the park expansion was to occur, were bought and demolished. An older woman who was a long time resident of one of these homes, distraught over the pressure of having to sell her home, committed suicide in the attic of her home. It is believed that part of her house remains in the park, across from the Kissing Tower, and currently houses a Boardwalk Fries, souvenir shop, and other eating establishments. Employees have reported hearing a woman moaning in pain, the moans emanating from the second floor of the building.
So when visiting Herhsey Park, if you happen to see children in old-fashioned swim suits, it may not be your imagination. Don't be frightened if you happen to see a shadowy figure while riding the SooperDooperLooper, or hear moans and groans in the area of the kissing tower. And last but not least, should you smell the phantom smell of cigar smoke, feel free to say hello Hershey.