Jim Thatcher (left) of Milton, Vt., listens as Carmon Rust explains the use of equipment used for the Northern New York Paranormal Research Society during the Paranormal Expo at the Plattsburgh City Recreation Center Saturday afternoon. The expo included a variety of displays including tarot card readings, reiki healing, psychic readings and several area organizations that investigate claims of paranormal activity such as ghost sightings.

Many people claim to have seen ghosts or spirits or had supernatural experiences.

On Saturday, the City of Plattsburgh Recreation Department teamed up with the Northern New York Paranormal Research Society to explore these topics and show attendees just how they analyze the unknown.

The expo was held in the gym on the U.S. Oval, a building in which some Recreation Department members have reported hearing footsteps and other loud knocking noises while alone there. The NNYPRS even investigated the building in 2008.

In addition to the NNYPRS, there were speakers on topics varying from haunting, 2012 (the year the Mayan calendar ends), human energy fields and UFOs. There was also a kids' corner with a bouncing tent and vendors offering services in crystal and herbal healing, aura imaging, psychic and tarot readings, reiki healing, massage and books on the paranormal.

The group estimated that the turnout this year was similar to last year's, with approximately 900 people.

The NNYPRS's goal when investigating a site with possible paranormal activity is to disprove that theory first, said Brian Leighton, team leader and head of the tech council.

For instance, there are times when people believe they are haunted because of the TV turning on and off, or other appliances that are acting oddly. The majority of cases, Leighton said, are explained as natural phenomenon such as an electrical problem or faulty plumbing. After investigations, he said, a homeowner's psychological fear is often put to rest. In cases where they think a spirit is present, they will leave the place in which they resided once they are recognized, he said.

There are times, however, when they cannot explain reports. In cases such as these, voices can be heard on recordings that are outside the human range of hearing. These electronic voice phenomena are often answers to questions the team asks, but can also be completely unrelated. Other times items have flown across the room or moved.

The majority of those in our society condition themselves throughout their life to disregard anything that might seem out of the ordinary, he said. This causes people to dismiss anything supernatural.

"People think this is horror-movie stuff," said NNYPRS President Merrill McKee. However, for him and his team it has been reality.

The team also uses Electromagnetic Frequency readers to measure EMF energy during investigations. While electronic appliances can sometimes give off EMF energy, Leighton said spirits — which are made of energy — can also cause the meter to jump.

Anything that cannot be explained is logged into their most valuable tool, he said: their notebook.

Lorna Reichel, who founded Atlantis Healthy Vibes Emporium, has been reading the energy field of individuals for 25 years in order to heal and transform their bodies and spirits.

"Everybody should be aware of what is going on in their energy field," Reichel said, so that they can improve their lives.

Today, there is more energy floating around, due to the amount of man-made items in the environment, she said. The frequency of energy that humans are producing is also increasing, she continued. This is a result of the alignment of the planets and the solar system, something the ancient Mayans were familiar with when ending their calender in the year 2012. The frequency of our energy fields will increase toward that point, she said, when the old age ends and a new one begins.

"As people are waking up, they are waking up to a different reality."

Today, people are much more in tune with the paranormal, she said. The normal and the paranormal exist in the same space. The only difference is the vibrations of these entities. This difference in frequency allows the paranormal to exist in the same time and place as our reality. With the help of those sensitive to the paranormal, these unexplained phenomena can be observed and understood.

"We go through as many scientific things as possible," McKee said. "Occasionally the metaphysical side has to be looked at."

While based in science, one of the most extreme cases the NNYPRS has encountered ended with McKee performing an exorcism.

"I'll never forget it. It was crazy," said McKee — who had only performed the rite because the owner was adamant about it. "(Afterward) it felt like a weight was lifted off."

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