Alderman Joe Bomba doesn’t believe in ghosts. Or aliens. Or Big Foot. But he’s in favor of having some celebrity ghost hunters do their thing inside the Sterling Opera House on Elizabeth Street.
After some members acknowledged it’s kinda weird, Bomba and the Derby Board of Aldermen voted unanimously Tuesday to allow ‘Ghost Hunters,’ the planet’s most popular paranormal show, to film an investigation inside the 122-year-old opera house.
A crew from the show is scheduled to be in Derby Feb. 28. They’ll be filming for four or five days.
‘Ghost Hunters’ is consistently among the highest-rated shows on the SyFy cable network. It averaged 2.2 million viewers per episode in 2010, according to the Futon Critic.
If you’re not a devotee, here’s a description of the show from SyFy:
“Contact between humans and spirits from the afterlife is not as far fetched as is it seems. As plumbers by day and ghost hunters by night, Jason Hawes, Grant Wilson and their team have worked to track down the presence of paranormals across the country. “
A clip from the show is posted above.
The Sterling Opera House came to the show’s attention because of Rich DiCarlo. He’s the president of the Valley Arts Council, chairman of the city’s cultural commission, a parking authority worker — and chief publicist for the alleged spirits haunting the opera house.
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For the past two years or so, DiCarlo has been telling media outlets big and small that the place has ghosts. The New Haven Register has written four articles on DiCarlo’s ghost quest since late 2009. Another television show did an investigation, but the show was canceled before the Sterling Opera house episode aired.
DiCarlo’s also opened the opera house to ghost hunters — a dime a dozen now because of shows such as “Ghost Hunters.”
DiCarlo said he’s been e-mailing people at “Ghost Hunters” every time someone writes about the place being haunted. Thanks to his efforts, the Sterling Opera House is listed on both the National Register of Historic Places and “Damned Connecticut.”
In his pitch to the Aldermen Tuesday, DiCarlo hoped that a “Ghost Hunters” segment may motivate an investor to come forward and donate to the Sterling Opera House renovation project.
Derby has been working steadily to restore the building.
As is stands, the interior of the building, with creaky stairs and decades-old hand-written notes on the wall, is sufficiently creepy for a “Ghost Hunters” episode.
Mayor Anthony Staffieri said Tuesday that he’s had some strange experiences inside the old building. He’s ventured into the basement with a flashlight, only to have the batteries die suddenly. Inexplicable cool breezes are also common, according to the mayor.
“The weirdest things happen to me there,” he said.
Alderman Dave Lenart joked that strange things sometimes happen to late-night patrons wandering out of Connie’s, the bar-restaurant across the street.
“Can I lock Mr. Lenart in the basement?” Staffieri asked, joking.
The “Ghost Hunters” will have to supply the city with insurance info. A fee for using the building was not mentioned.