By Mark Bell | April 10, 2010

I hate when I get behind in writing. The plan is always to sum up the day in a blog entry when I get back to my room in the evening, but I got back to my room last night at 4:30am this morning… and I brought guests, who I didn’t want to disturb with my loud typing and desk light while they tried to sleep off their fun evening. So, anyway, I didn’t get to tell the Tale of the DART Ride to the Magnolia Theater, or share what I thought of “The Red Chapel” or “I Am Love.” And I’m not going to do that now, either, because I’d rather tell the story of my haunted hotel room.

The festival was kind enough to place me in a lovely room at the Hotel Palomar. Lucky for me, I’m on the 9th floor, which is also where the Festival Lounge is. Last night I tested out how awesome that room-by-the-lounge scenario could be by hanging in the lounge, drinking and chatting up any and everyone around me. One particular gentleman, a filmmaker by the name of James LaMarr who directed a film playing the festival entitled “Walking Distance,” informed me at one point during our conversation that he heard the Hotel Palomar was haunted.

The hairs on the back of my neck shot up when he told me, because I remembered something from Thursday night that I didn’t think to mention at the time, but light of the new context, made some creepy sense. Here’s what happened:

I got up in the middle of the night to use the restroom. I rolled out of the bed on the side closest the restroom and walked to my destination without turning on any lights save the one in the restroom. Did my business and, as I walked back to my bed… the light on the opposite, far side of my bed was on! But I didn’t turn it on. It surprised me at the time, but in response I just grabbed my iPod, turned up the volume and crawled as far under the covers as I could. Fell asleep, and didn’t think about it again until James told me about the hotel being haunted.

This started my evening of informal polling of party-goers about whether they had heard anything about the hotel being haunted… and many did have stories! After numerous dubious details (which I was asked to keep off the record, so I will) from many random people began to match up, I got more and more creeped. When festival head honcho Michael Cain told me he’d heard some stories too, it was cemented in my head. There was a ghost in my room! A considerate one, who didn’t want me to get lost coming back from the restroom, but still!

Filmmaker Malcolm Ingram suggested I address the ghost in my room prior to bed, just to assure it that things are cool, that I know it’s there, but it doesn’t need to prove it.

Now, I didn’t test that theory, mainly because of my guests this morning. However, this morning I noticed, after my guests had left, that the far side light was on AGAIN! Maybe they turned it on to f**k with me, but it wasn’t on when we all woke up.

So, now I’ve turned that light off, and I’m going to head out for the evening and see if it’s on when I get back. I also have turned the lights off in the room, walked to the bathroom and flushed the toilet, just to see if there’s an automatic thing going on… and there isn’t.

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  1. Don Lewis says:

    how do we know YOU aren’t a GHOST?!?

  2. nicholas wilson says:

    I am a building engineer (glorified maintenance personnel) there at the hotel Palomar. I am serious a sorry for your scary experience. I apologize for any undue stress this has caused you, but please allow me to explain…
    The building was built in the 1960s under whatever budget restrictions or regulations their construction schedules permitted. The building has gone through several remodels since then, as do many of the commercial properties and hotels in the DFW area. What happened in your room is very common. Our lamps are touch sensitive, and light up as you place your finger or hand at their base. I have emulated in multiple rooms. If the transformer inside the lamp comes loose or gets wired wrong it can be turned off with the slightest touch, even by breathing on it or slapping a wall in the room or even outside in the hallway. I have been diligently working to correct this issue.
    My guess is as you went to turn on/off your bathroom light the mere physics of you getting out of bed or thumping the wall would be enough to turn the light on. I am very sorry if this scared you, and like I said, I have been diligently working to correct the issue. I assure you we are not haunted, and we are 105% ghost free. Please do not let this experience keep you from future visits or stay with us.
    If you do stay with us again in the future, and you still have this concern address it with the front desk and someone from maintenance can come and test your lamps and any other lights or power outlets too assure you they are free of paranormal activity. Sorry about the spookiness and please, feel free to stop by and verify our “ghost free” atmosphere. This post has made the rounds, in our offices, and we have made sure to do everything short of hiring the Ghostbusters to correct this small electrical issue.

  3. Victoria says:

    I got a hotel room that night on the third floor. And sometime around 5 or six am the light on the right hand side spontaneously turned on. I thought “that film threat guy is right, I have to tell him” But there was zero weirdness the 2nd night. Maybe the ghost just goes around messing with individuals on their inaugural stay.

  4. James LaMarr says:

    You crack me up! It was great to meet you, and I apologize for making you lose some precious festival sleep! – James LaMarr

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