I did not realize how much of a hidden treasure the ghost tours of the Paranormal Society of Bradenton were until I saw all of the enthusiastic reactions to my Instagram takeover Saturday night. Since I am just recently back in Bradenton for the summer, I was pleasantly surprised when I learned of the new ghost tour that is led through downtown Bradenton on the weekends.
My family and I always go on ghost tours in any historic areas we visit, so it was awesome to see downtown Bradenton grow in yet another dimension: paranormal exploration. However, I figured I would have been one of the last in the know, not the first! I was surprised at the number of people who had not already heard of the ghost tours, but were certainly excited to learn more.
To start, just as most ghost tours have we had an enthusiastic tour guide: Kenny, The Collector. While Kenny certainly enjoys his job as both a member of the paranormal society and a tour guide, he is also a Taekwondo instructor and a father as he proudly declared. Kenny is one of ten members of the Paranormal Society of Bradenton, three of which were present for the tour on Friday night. Along with Kenny, Liz Reed and her husband Ron were also involved in facilitating the tour. Liz and Ron are the co-founders of the society.
One aspect that set this ghost tour apart from any others I have been on was the use of paranormal equipment. I thought this was a really unique addition, especially somewhere like downtown Bradenton where people may not be as likely to believe in the little known paranormal occurrences.
The tour flowed through the streets of downtown Bradenton, stopping at notable locations like the old Manatee Players building, Central library, a few Old Main Street locations, the Historical Manatee County Courthouse and of course, the old Pink Palace which is now the recently remodeled Hampton Inn and Suites hotel. While we were unable to venture inside to hear the history and see what kind of paranormal activity we could detect with our EMF detectors, we stood on the neighboring curbside as Kenny The Collector explained everything in great detail.
Overall, what I liked the most about the tour was the combination of information that was provided. I learned about paranormal presences that exist from different time periods throughout downtown Bradenton’s history. What was really interesting to me was some of the historical facts that were presented in the matter of an hour and a half about downtown Bradenton that I had never uncovered in 21 years of living here.
As a Floridian, or even more specifically, a “Bradentonian”, growing up I learned things about Florida history, that generally come to mind when people think about Florida: Native Americans, the Spanish presence in the early years, and of course marine life. However, this tour gave me some insight on the evolution of downtown life in Bradenton; a more personal and specific historical outlook than what I had previously gained. I learned about different businesses that used to operate downtown and historical events that occurred that I had never heard of. It was so interesting to now know specific history behind buildings I have walked by for years without once considering what the past held for them.
This tour has a lot to offer anyone who goes on it, whether they are a ghost enthusiast, a curious soul (no pun intended), or just looking to enjoy an interesting, historical walk through downtown Bradenton!
If you would like to experience the paranormal tour yourself, it is easy enough to do! The tour runs every Friday and Saturday evening for two tours, one from 8 to 9:30 and a second from 9:45 to 11 p.m. Any further information regarding the tours or the paranormal society themselves can be found on their website!
Continue to follow me this summer through my many adventures in downtown Bradenton!