Paranormal ‘happenings’ investigated at Grandstands

DEL MAR — Like all spooky stories, it begins in an empty, darkened room. A voice calls out, “Is there anybody here?”
But when it really becomes spooky is when strange spheres of light appear; when doors begin to open and close on their own; when the empty, darkened room whispers back, “Yes.” All of this has happened — is happening at the Del Mar Grandstands and all of it is being investigated.
“I had heard stories,” said Linda Zweig, fairgrounds spokesperson, referring to a number of ghostly activities reported over the years by fairground employees. What she had heard were stories of events happening mostly on the grandstand’s fifth floor.
Zweig explained that the fifth floor of today’s grandstands was originally the rooftop nightclub where all of Hollywood’s elite would go to escape from the crowds. Bing Crosby, Jimmy Durante, Betty Grable and Bob Hope, to name a few, all spent time bantering and entertaining each other during the late 1930s and on.
Zweig, who got the investigations going, started looking for several local paranormal investigators before going exclusively with SCP (South Coast Paranormal) based in San Diego. SCP was founded by David Walters and his wife Elleicia.
“Right now, we are gathering information and it is ongoing,” Zweig said.
“The first investigation that we had, we got the big video of that big shadow,” Zweig said. The video shows a darkened shadow moving across the room of the Whittingham Sports Pub.
“We had a piece of equipment called a voice box,” Zweig said. “Basically it’s like a transistor radio, where the stations are changing, and the theory behind it, is if you ask a question, if there is an energy there or a spirit…they will use that energy to form words and or sentences and they answer questions.”
After asking a series of questions, Zweig said she began to feel as if someone was standing behind her. A question was asked, “What do you like to drink?” And through the voice box came the word “martini,” Zweig said.
Charlie Whittingham was a former horse trainer during the races; he’d grown up in Chula Vista and had been inducted into the Breitbard Hall of Fame. Zweig was telling of her experiences in the pub to one of the fairground security guards. The guard smiled and said that she and Charlie used to train horses together and afterwards, they would go to Bully’s and Charlie would drink martinis into the afternoon.
“I said, ‘Oh my God,’ I bet you that was Charlie,” Zweig said.
To date, there have been nine investigations resulting in more than 150 electronic voice phenomena, video and photographs.
“Every time brings us something new and each time seems better than the last,” Walters said. “It’s almost like a bottomless pit of activity. Why they’re there and who is there is what we are still trying to figure out, and some day I know we will,” he added.
One of his most memorable experiences came while sitting in the Turf Club on the fourth level. He and two other investigators were sitting in the room quietly, he explained.
“We were in this room for a good 40 minutes just asking for a form of communication. Sometimes we’ll say things like: ‘Hey don’t be shy, we aren’t here to hurt you or make you do anything you don’t want to do…we just want to talk. How about you come in and tell us a story? Tell us what keeps you here in the Turf Club.’
“When we said, ‘How about you come on in,’ the push plate of the huge metal door was slammed. It was so loud, and the sound was so obvious we didn’t have to say ‘What was that?’ We knew right away what it was. The door was trying to be opened from the inside. In order to open these doors, you have to push the bar or push plate and then the door can open. This push plate was slammed so hard against that door that it was extremely impressive. We were completely blown away by the strength. I will never forget that.”
Walters was introduced to unexplained phenomena when he was young. The house he had grown up in saw paranormal activity that he said caused his family to flee the home, opting to live in a hotel before the house was sold.
“The affects of the paranormal activity really took a toll on our family,” he said. “These events that took place in the home had such an effect on me that I couldn’t simply forget about them. I was constantly looking up paranormal phenomena in the libraries; I was reading as much as I could have because I wanted to understand what had happened.”
Walters developed SCP with the goal to finding some answers and help families in the process. They not only investigate industrial properties, but also private residences.
Zweig said that they have seen an increase in activity since the investigations started because the entities have gotten comfortable with them and like talking. “They’re mischievous, they’re pranksters and they love having us there. They’ve said it; we’ve heard it…and when we’re there it’s a very nice feeling. You feel like you’re walking in to see some old friends,” she said.
While they are still collecting evidence, Zweig said that there was a possibility of putting out a series of books. “There’s no rush,” she said. “It’s just part of our history. We’ve had historical books published…regarding the fairgrounds and our Hollywood history and this might just fall in line to be one of those…there is a lot of history here.”
To see and hear some of the evidence collected, visit


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