Saturday, May 21, 2011

Clownbox disappears in Lewiston

A guest post from Loren Coleman:

The ringmaster, Peter Sturgis, of the Kora Shriners Circus called the International Cryptozoology Museum today to follow up on some books he was obtaining from our giftshop. During out conversation, he mentioned that the circus's visit to Maine this year was one of the strangest they have experienced in years, due to the fact someone stole their "shrinker" from the parking lot of the Temple in Lewiston.

I looked up the news account via Bangor Daily News, and thought Strange Maine readers might be interested.
Clown prop stolen from truck in Lewiston
By Mark LaFlamme, Sun Journal
Posted April 22, 2011, at 9:36 a.m.

Sun Journal photo courtesy of the Lewiston Police Department
The Kora Clowns Weight Loss Machine in action at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.
LEWISTON, Maine — The tension is thick.

A large clown named Kracker has crawled into a bright yellow box. Bulbs are flashing, blue, green, red. A buzzer sounds. Smoke pours from the magical box. Confetti flies into the air and moments later, the clown emerges, half the size he was moments before.

It’s called Kora Clowns Weight Loss Machine and it dazzles audiences wherever it goes. Only now, the machine is missing, the target of thieves who swiped it from the back of Kracker’s truck.

The theft was a trick in itself — at 400 pounds, the bulky box could not have been an easy thing to carry away.

“The machine is very large and heavy,” Lewiston police Lt. Michael McGonagle said, “and would need more than one person to move.”

Detectives are on the case. Real police, not the Krazy Kops. And they are not clowning around. Leads have already been developed. Police and the Shriners who use the box to entertain crowds at the circus are hoping the thieves will bring it back.

“It’s not a high-value item,” Shriner Michael Morin said. “But it means a lot to us and to the kids.”

On Thursday afternoon, there was a report that the Weight Loss Machine fell off the back of a truck on Interstate 295 in Freeport. Police were checking into that report while chasing local leads.

“If anyone has information,” McGonagle said, “or knows of someone who has lost a lot of weight in the past day, have them contact Detective Roland Godbout.”

Cue rim shot.

It’s hard not to joke about a device used by a bunch of clowns. But the Shriners are serious about getting it back.

The prop was taken from the back of a pickup parked on South Lisbon Road the night of April 12-13. Its absence leaves Shriners without one of their more popular gags with which to wow audiences.

“The guys are scrambling now to put something together for the Augusta circus shows on Friday and Saturday,” said Jim Bennett, also known as Ginjo the clown. The box was constructed by — no, really — the Shriners Klown Unit. It’s a simple box with attachments for the bulbs, smoke and confetti. It’s Kracker who goes into the machine but a slimmer clown named Stumpy who comes out.

Which Rob Farrington, of the Klown Unit, feels is fairly important to note. Who knows if the thieves are crawling in and out of the box, waiting for the pounds to magically disappear?

“It’s a pretty cool little skit,” Farrington said. “But it doesn’t really work.”

Thanks to Brian for pointing out a follow-up article in the Sun Journal, in which it was determined that the box fell out of Krackers' truck, and was not in fact stolen.
Clown prop recovered. Sort of.
By Mark LaFlamme, Staff Writer
Apr 23, 2011 12:00 am

LEWISTON — The Kora Clowns Weight Loss Machine, reported stolen earlier in the week, more likely fell off a clown's truck in Freeport, police said Friday.

Police said it appears the 400-pound wooden box was not stolen after all. Indications are that the gizmo may have fallen off of a pickup driven Richard Nadeau, aka Kracker the clown, after the Shrine Circus show in Portland on Tuesday night.

Highway officials apparently found the box along Interstate 295 in Freeport late Tuesday or early Wednesday. It was in less than prime condition, police said, and the Weight Loss Machine was disposed of.

Nadeau had been hauling the box and told police he did not notice the item missing from his truck parked on South Lisbon Road until Wednesday morning. When he discovered it was gone, he told police he assumed it had been stolen, police said.

It was not reported to police until Thursday. They began looking into the matter and by the end of the day, they discovered that the box had been found on the interstate in Freeport.

The Weight Loss Machine featured flashing bulbs, ominous smoke and a buzzer that heralded the seeming transformation of a big clown into a little one.

"It was a pretty popular skit," Shriner Mike Morin said.

It had been constructed by the Shriners and was valued at about $500. With more circus appearances on the schedule, Morin expects the Shriners will waste little time in constructing a new and improved Weight Loss Machine to continue the business of shrinking clowns and wowing crowds.

"I'd be really surprised," he said, "if they don't build another one right away."

Friday, May 20, 2011

Sunday: LIVE on Maine Ghost Hunters radio!

Yep, that's right, I'll be on the Maine Ghost Hunters' radio show this Sunday evening, 5/22/11, from 8:00-10:00pm, Eastern Standard Time!


Giving ghosthunters a bad name

When I first heard about this story, I was going to post it as a reminder to folks who are interested in "ghost hunting" to be careful about trespassing on abandoned sites in Maine. However, when I went to read the full article on the Bangor Daily News site, I discovered that not only were the people involved in this incident trespassing at an old mill site, but also they were dense enough to drag their infant (yes, I said infant) along with them.

Yep, the best place for a 15-month-old is wandering around a potentially hazardous abandoned site. Good job, guys. Good team effort, there.
Ghost hunters summoned for trespassing in Orono
By Dawn Gagnon
Posted May 18, 2011, at 11:28 p.m.

ORONO, Maine — Four area adults were summoned on trespassing charges shortly after midnight Tuesday after they reportedly scaled a barbed-wire-topped gate leading to Ayers Island with a baby in tow.

“They said they were looking for ghosts,” Orono police Officer Wilfred King said Wednesday evening. King said one of the ghost hunters brought along a camera in hopes of documenting paranormal activity on the island, which is privately owned and off-limits to the public. Several large signs there make that point.

King also said that the ghost hunters picked late Tuesday night because they said there was a full moon.

Sgt. Scott LaJoie said the group didn’t quite make it onto the island, however. King, who was patrolling the area that night, spotted their vehicle shortly after they arrived.

Charged with trespassing, but not arrested, were: Eric Roy, 23, of Bangor; Kimberly Patten, 19, of Orono; and Chauncey Hulbert, 27, of Bradley, and Hulbert’s 25-year-old wife, Suzanne Hulbert, King said.

King said that the Hulberts had brought along their 15-month-old child and that Chauncey Hulbert was taken to a Bangor hospital for treatment of leg injuries he suffered while climbing over the gate, which King said is about 8 feet tall and topped with barbed wire.

According to published reports, Ayers Island is home to the former Striar Textile Mill, which was built in 1890 and last operated in October 1996, as well as the former Orono Pulp & Paper Co. Most of the buildings that remain there were built around 1907, according to local histories.

It has been, among other things, the focus of redevelopment efforts and an environmental cleanup.

It also has a reputation for being haunted. In the summer of 2006, the cable network VH1 filmed two episodes of “Celebrity Paranormal Project” on the 62-acre island titled “Tanner’s Ghost” and “Wooden Lucy.” (Video here: Tanner's Ghost -- Wooden Lucy --

According to local legend, the island in the Penobscot River, located two miles from the University of Maine campus, is haunted by the ghost of a foreman killed in a mysterious accident who is said to haunt the mill seeking revenge, and the ghost of a young girl whose father accidentally killed her after being tricked by a 300-year-old American Indian curse.

Roy and Chauncey Hulbert were among three men arrested in 2008 in connection with the theft of $6,000 in electrical wiring from a Bradley contractor. (Story here:

Roy later was indicted by the Penobscot County grand jury and sentenced the next year to 30 days in jail and $500 restitution. He also has a theft conviction from March of this year and convictions for possession of drug paraphernalia and driving without a license.

Hulbert has been convicted of criminal mischief in 2010 and 2009, and assault in 2009.

Photo of Ayers Island from, home of Ayers Island LLC.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Toilet fire? Yep, toilet fire.

I can't make this stuff up.

The Bangor Daily News made up the title for it, though.
Toilet fire reported in Rockport
By Abigail Curtis, BDN Staff
Posted May 01, 2011, at 4:03 p.m.

ROCKPORT, Maine — A would-be arsonist used a dollar bill and alder branches Saturday night in an attempt to set a fire in a portable toilet outside a Route 90 convenience store.

“That is odd. That is very bizarre,” said Traci Cultrera, a cashier at the Tolman Pond Market. “I’m blown away that they used their own money.”

She said that staff had discovered Sunday morning that there were a bunch of “brambled sticks” in the urinal, along with the dollar bill. Not much damage was caused by the fire in the toilet, which is adjacent to the store.

“Just a little charring on the Porta-Potty,” she said. “Good thing it didn’t manage to catch. If it did, we would have lost the whole store.”

Patrolman Dana Smith of the Rockport Police Department said that he had been called to the scene to investigate.

“It started to burn, but either somebody showed up, or they got sick of waiting for the green branches to burn,” he said. “The dollar bill was pretty much gone.”

He said that he encouraged the store’s staff to get better security cameras. Smith said that he thinks he has a suspect in the matter.

“You just never know what you’re going to get,” he said.

Monday, May 16, 2011

TONIGHT! Strange Maine on WMPG

WHEN: Monday, May 16th from around 10:00pm to 11:00pm
WHERE: WMPG, 90.9 FM and 104.1 FM in the Greater Portland area, or listen online here to their streaming broadcast.
WHAT: DanK of the Random Thought Crime Generator show interviews me about the world of Strange Maine and the latest issue of the Gazette

Who knows what will surface? The show customarily features a mix of soundtracks, novelties, spoken word, experimental, and instrumentals from all genres, especially jazz, surf, and r&b, but the Strange Maine interview show creates a neat hybrid of these elements with extensive interview segments interspersed. Nifty dandy!!!

Tune in and check it out!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

More Maine UFOs?

MUFON listed a new report from a Mainer this week, which occurred on May 7th, 2011. Unfortunately no area or location is mentioned, beyond a rural setting, so it could be anywhere:
I saw two bright lights out the window. The lights came from the east and headed west. It appeared to look like a jet headed for a landing in my driveway.

When I went outside, it changed direction towards my property which is in a rural area. I then noticed there were two sets of lights. As it got closer I could see two triangular shaped vessels. They were very close to each other. There was the sound of machinery, engine. But it was not like the sound of a jet engine, helicopter, prop plane or automobile. The air was still underneath it. It was not a very loud sound.

I called for my friend in the house to come out and see it. There were many white lights underneath. There were bright lights at each corner of the isosoles triangle. When looking up you could see inside the vessel. It appeared to be about 20 ft across. As you looked up into it seemed to be constructed like a pyramid. Inside the lights you could see geometric patterns.

Lights like search beams eminated from it. The light was very bright but not blinding. At one point the light fixated on me for a few seconds and the vessel continued on like what seemed to be a walking speed. As I stared up at the vessel I knew it was other worldly. It came in from the east and then proceeded south southwest.
(I have corrected a few minor and obvious single-letter typos for readability.)


Back on April 22nd, another sighting was reported via MUFON, this time near Lewiston:
I took my dog out for some business about 12:10 this morning. I went out on my stoop and I always look at the sky. Having moved here a little over a year ago, I enjoyed the night sky because it had so many more stars than where I lived before.

I noticed what appeared to be a plane above and to my right. It had a couple of lights on, flashing but not going on and off. They seemed to twinkle more than flash. I assumed it was a plane and continued to watch the dog as she sniffed around. After a few seconds, I looked up again and there was one steady light. I thought I must have been mistaken about the additional lights and thought maybe it was a star. Then they came on again. It wasn't moving but it was hovering, and I realized after a minute or two that this was something unusual.

The lights flickered, and then it started moving extremely slowly toward me, with no sound at all. That freaked me out a little and I went inside. I looked out the window of the door, and I saw it moving side to side, slowly. Then it stopped and continued to flicker.

At first I thought it looked like it was a boomerang shape. But it could have been a disc. It definitely had an angle to it. It reminded me of a wedding band that had diamonds all around it. Like I said, they were white and flickered, sometimes all of them, sometimes a couple and sometimes just one.

It was hovering out towards Lewiston, ME and it was about the height and size of a plane. I watched for about 15 minutes, but because of it moving toward me, I decided to stop watching. It definitely gave me an eerie feeling. I've seen UFOs in the past (many years ago) and they didn't evoke that feeling in me. This just seemed different, maybe because I was by myself and it was so dark out. I watched the news hoping to hear of other reports, but so far there haven't been any. I thought I should mention it to someone. Thanks.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Maine Ghost Hunters cemetery series!

What: Sunday Cemetery Series Kick-Off - Eastern Cemetery in Portland, ME
When: Sunday, June 12, 2011 1:00 PM
Price: $3.00 per person
Where: Eastern Cemetery, 224 Congress Street, Portland, Maine (between Mountfort and Federal Streets)

The kick-off to the 2011 Sunday Cemetery Series is here! Plan to attend the first location of the series right in beautiful Portland, ME. This Maine Ghost Hunters Series was a huge success in 2010, and promises to be even more impressive this season. Unlike some of our investigation meetups, this series is family friendly. Well behaved children 12 and over are invited to attend with their parents.

Any serious cemetery enthusiast would agree, Eastern has to be at the top of the list when it comes to "must see" locations. For many reasons, it is easy to argue that this is one of the most significant colonial cemeteries in the country. It was added to the registry of historical places in 1974. Speaking of history, a theme of this year's series is a remembrance of the 150 year anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War. At each location on the tour we will be explaining that particular cemeteries tie to the American conflict that put brother against brother. Eastern has an impressive connection.

Also, for this tour, the Maine Ghost Hunters Team is proud to announce that a member of Spirits Alive will be our very special guest! Spirits Alive is a group dedicated to the preservation of Eastern Cemetery. Their work has kept this national treasure from falling into the hands of neglect, time and vandalism. Their knowledge of the cemetery and all that can be found in it, is unrivaled. Check them out at

So make sure you wear your Maine Ghost Hunters T-shirt (if you have one) and join us for an unforgettable day of cemetery exploration.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Swarm of earthquakes hits state

Earlier this week NPR's All Things Considered program looked into the micro-quake swarm that percolated along the coast of Maine during the first week of May. On their site they have an audio version of the interview that Melissa Blocks did with Robert Marvinney, director of the Maine Geological Survey. For those who prefer the written word, a transcription of the interview is also available.

While most folks don't consider Maine prime earthquake territory, those of us who have been here for a long time know that they do happen now and again, though not usually in such quantities.

Blocks quizzed Marvinney about why such a series of quakes would occur in Maine, to which he responded, "There was a swarm like this in 2006 around Bar Harbor, another one in 1967 around the Augusta area. And because they're so rare and they're so small, we really don't have a good answer for why a spate of earthquakes will occur like this in one location."

Visit NPR's site to hear the whole interview for yourself:
Very interesting stuff!