Vote for Bigfoot: A Visit to North Carolina’s Cryptozoological and Paranormal Museum

Get close enough to Nov. 8 in a swing state and campaign signs become so inescapable it seems the Earth is enduring election acupuncture. Even the weirdest ones are starting to mix. In North Carolina, there are the quartets of red light signs for Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest scattered across the state, which said…

“CLASSES”

“FOREST”

“CLASSES”

“DAN FOREST RUN FOREST RUN”

…as you pass them on the road. There are the Mountain Dew-themed signs for State Rep. H. Powell Dew Jr. And then there are the homemade signs made by avid voters. In Littleton, North Carolina, an aptly named town of about 700 near the Virginia border, someone put a sign on a telephone pole that read, “WHEN YOU STOLE MY ‘TRUMP’ SIGN, YOU HAVE VIOLATED MY 1ST AMENDMENT RIGHTS. IF I CATCH YOU, I WILL EXERCISE MY 2ND AMENDMENT RIGHTS. The only interesting campaign sign in the entire state, however, is a few blocks away, outside an old white house on Mosby Avenue with black wooden silhouettes of Bigfoot in front. The sign has a giant green thumbprint on it and reads: “VOTE BIG FOOT! America’s only BELIEVE choice.

Below, in lowercase type, is a disclaimer stating who paid for this ad: The Museum of Cryptozoology and the Paranormal, a series of overly syllabled words that roughly translate to “we’re the local lunatics.” .

Stephen Barcelo swears he didn’t come to Littleton to open a cryptozoology museum. The photographer and videographer moved to North Carolina about three years ago after losing his job at the New York Daily Newsfrom the Long Island office, where he followed celebrities to the Hamptons and occasionally parked outside Billy Joel’s house to poach the Piano Man’s Wi-Fi. He also photographed the two presidential candidates – Donald Trump during his failed attempts to build a huge resort on Jones Beach and Hillary Clinton during a Senate trip to Central Islip. But no, he won’t approve of either – didn’t you see the signs outside?

Anyway, Barcelo interviewed for a job at a local news station, but the pay was bad and the hours worse. Then the clay balls started appearing in the house. “We didn’t want to be the crazy Yankees with ghosts,” says Barcelo, who has short gray hair, a short gray beard and wore a gray “Haunted Littleton” t-shirt. That’s not true – Barcelo has never been afraid to be a remarkable northerner with a love for the inexplicable. Back in New York, Barcelo had always jumped at the chance to cover any story relating to the weird and unbelieving, despite the fact that a friend from the New York Post once said to him, “Don’t do Bigfoot! It’s a career killer. He went upstate to Whitehall, which passed an ordinance in 2004 to stop people shooting their reported Bigfoot, and visited the Shanley Hotel in County Ulster, where he captured his best images yet: a brief look at the famous ghost cat.

It was therefore not at all surprising that Stephen Barcelo started doing ghost tours once he moved to Littleton, taking tourists to various old houses in town each night when he could assemble enough. “Nobody does what we do here,” he says in his fast, slightly long Long Island accent. “”Where are you going to buy a ghost meter?”

Jaime Fuller

The museum followed soon after. And then the big break came. Tifanie Merrill, who lives just down the street, saw Bigfoot running through the trees behind her house. Or at least she saw Something. When the local news arrived a few months later after several more reports, Barcelo offered its on-air expertise. “Right away I said, ‘Could it have been a guy, a hunter in a ghillie suit, or a bear? ‘” he told WNCN. In the footage, he stands in front of the statue of Bigfoot in the museum on the first floor of his home, which looks like a great-grandmother’s house filled with trinkets – that is, if your great- grandma hung scary ventriloquist dolls in the corner or shrunken heads collected from Ecuador. “You can’t have a paranormal museum,” his daughter Holly likes to say, “without shrunken heads.”

He and Holly, who runs the museum with him, then heard strange growls and found a large footprint in Medoc Mountain State Park, which they cast in plaster and added to the growing collection of footprints. museum jellies. People from all over the world are now finding a reason to stop in a small town miles off the highway.

These sightings were not the first reported sightings of Bigfoot in North Carolina. In 2011 the Associated Press spoke to a guy from Salisbury who think he took Bigfoot on camera. But it was the first time something exciting had happened in Littleton in a long time. The town was once home to Panacea Springs, a resort offering miracle mineral water, and now relies heavily on seasonal tourism from nearby Lake Gaston. It’s one of those countless little towns across the country that was once something, and is now just a repository of nostalgia for what it used to be – or the people who lived there and who now content to haunt her. Barcelo are convinced that more tourism could bring Littleton back to greatness – and if Bigfoot is the draw, the town should embrace it. Some local businesses have – the Cryptozoological and Paranormal Museum sells “Yeti” beer made by someone in town, as well as locally roasted Littleton Bigfoot Blend coffee. “Even if it’s silly, go for it!” he says, adding that he works primarily in the entertainment business, which means marketing everything he has to offer.

Jaime Fuller

Now he’s just waiting to find the evidence. He’s got the merchandise, he had a float in the parade this year, and everyone in town might think he’s crazy, but at least they know who he is. “We are looking for our ghost cat,” he says. Concrete proof of something amazing – that’s what will finally put Littleton on the map.

He has a few options. He could capture Bigfoot, a task complicated by the fact that no one else has yet managed to do so. But was anyone else in the world looking for said creature near a state park? and a genetics lab for a large meat processing company? Or he could be filming something on one of his ghost tours. Or the museum’s first donation – a seemingly haunted Mrs. Beasley doll locked in an illuminated wooden box with a padlock – could be filmed.

Jaime Fuller

Until then, Barcelo, the journalist-turned-cryptozoological curator, is doing what any journalist looking for a story does – collecting strings.

“It sort of plays to the same things,” Barcelo says. “If I’m talking to you and you’re a potential serial killer or you’re a politician and I hate your opinions, I can’t act that way. I have to put that aside and get you to tell your story. One of the unofficial jobs of any self-proclaimed paranormal expert is to hear all the stories of people who have had their own weird run-ins with things that scared them for reasons they can’t quite explain. These kinds of tales don’t usually find a receptive audience, so the museum has become something of a confessional for anyone afraid of being laughed at for seeing something strange.

As Holly says, “I do ghost tours for a living and study Bigfoot. I won’t throw stones, I refuse. This openness often leads to bad leads. Most Bigfoot sighting stories don’t are not going well, which is shocking. There are the given footprints that look like human feet. Barcelo knows that as sightings in the area become more well-known, the strange sounds in the forest are becoming more plus likely to turn out to be “two more idiots on the mountainside who say, ‘There’s a Bigfoot!'” A corner of the museum is devoted to famous forgeries like the jackalope and the “furry fish,” a hoax by a Colorado Chamber of Commerce official seeking to attract tourism that inspired the New York Times to publish the title “THE FUR TROUT ASTONISHES FISHERMEN; Some club members actually fall out of their chairs when a state official talks about it. BUT NO ONE DOUBTS HIM.

Barcelo have never seen Bigfoot, and chances are they never will. But he’s got plenty of stories to keep you entertained and a cooler full of free water and soda to share — and maybe a shirt to sell — if you stick around to see his exhibits. “We’re not just a roadside attraction – let’s take a picture of the biggest frying pan. We will tell stories. And if you’re having fun, no matter what you believe, “there’s nothing wrong with that. If the negative is ‘you’re crazy’, that’s fine with me.”

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