Every time I go to a cemetery — which isn't often, thank baby Jesus — without fail when reading a gravestone, I picture this guy and hear his voice in my head.
Thanks a lot, Stephen King. Pet Sematary's Jud Crandall (Fred Gwynne) will forever taunt me.
So semataries, I mean cemeteries, are spooky. I think most everyone can agree with that. But, not satisfied with the normal level of spookiness present in cemeteries, someone in Huntsville, Alabama, decided at some point in history that what their local cemetery was missing was a friggin playground.
Just imagine. You go to pay your respects to Great Grandma Gertrude's grave with little Johnny. But Johnny won't behave, so you send him to the creepy but conveniently placed playground in the cemetery. Only he comes back crying because the other kids won't let him play. As far as you can see there are no other kids, but the swing set swings seem to be moving anyway, even without the wind.
Self-propelled swings are just part of the strange activity reported at the playground, situated in Maple Hill Cemetery. The playground's official name is Drost Park, but to all the locals in town, the cemetery is known as:
The Dead Children's Playground
Written about in a few places on the internet, and with images via Imgur, now all can read about this creepy place and the frightening legend accompanying it. A legend like all such creepy places is bound to have.
Built in 1822, Maple Hill is Alabama's largest cemetery. Sources vary, but at some point in either the 1940s or 1960s, a serial killer abducted several children, leaving their bodies in a clearing near where the playground would be built. This leads one to wonder if the playground was some sort of macabre dedication, but there's no evidence to suggest it. Instead, some strange soul just put it there. The legend was probably born sometime after the playground was built. Searches in old newspapers don't show any proof the murders ever happened.
Location, Location, Location
The playground is covered by enough trees that it has an eerie, gloomy shade, no matter how sunny it is. That and the fact that it's surrounded on three sides by a rock cliff just add to a sad, closed-off atmosphere.
To add to the legend, there is said to be trails leading through the surrounding woods to old abandoned mine shafts. Some say the supposed murderer may have lived in one during his reign of terror.
The locals have proven how much they want the playground to stay in its location. In 2007, the city began the process of tearing the playground up to make space for, you know, more dead people. They literally tore the park up overnight. The surrounding community made it clear they were not on board with that. In the end, not only did they save the playground, they got the city to replace the old slide and swings with new equipment.
Normal Paranormal Activity
As might be expected — by the dark-minded — a playground built on the site of possible heinous acts and in the middle of a cemetery sees its fair share of paranormal activity, reported by visitors. Swings swing by themselves, sometimes several in tandem, the pitter patter of little feet can be heard, as well as the sweet sounds of disembodied children's laughter. Orbs — a possible sign of spirits — appear in pictures, especially located on the slide, as in the picture above.
Even the red and white lights seen above might be easily dismissed as headlights, flashlights, or some other reflective surface. But those who know the area verify that all that is in that vicinity is a stone rock face.
So, there you have it. A dead children's playground. A place for the young and alive to play and have fun among the dead and gone. It may not seem like the most practical of ideas, and is certainly not a play-date for the weak-hearted, but the people of Huntsville enjoy it. And, who knows, maybe the dead enjoy the company.
Will you be adding this to your haunted road trip bucket list?