Visitors haunt Dr Pepper Museum after dark

The Waco Dr Pepper Museum welcomed visitors Wednesday night to participate in the “After Dark” event, which featured a two-hour-long tour of the historic buildings. Nathan De La Cerda | Multimedia Journalist

Carson Lewis | Page One Editor

Visitors of the Waco Dr Pepper Museum Wednesday night had the chance to learn more about the museum’s past, including reports from the destructive 1953 Waco tornado and documentation of alleged paranormal activity in various locations in the historic building.

As part of the event, named “After Dark,” guests were given a two-hour-long tour of the historic Artesian Manufacturing & Bottling Co. building. Much of the interior lighting which normally lit the buildings interior was turned off, and visitors were instead expected to bring flashlights to light the path for their guided tour. However, emergency lights above exit signs and in stairwells were still turned on for safety.

With the $30 admission, guests were also provided with a glow-in-the-dark tote bag, a glass bottle of pure cane sugar Dr Pepper and a “Dr Ghoul” treat — a vanilla ice cream sundae with Dr Pepper syrup, cherry syrup, whipped cream and gummy worms.

The tour began with a short video that detailed staff members’ strange experiences within the building. Then guides took members through parts of the museum, telling the history of the buildings, describing some of the stories they had heard and experienced while working at the museum. Then they showed a nine-minute video that detailed some of the findings by investigations of paranormal investigators.

Mary Beth Farrell, the director of communications at the Dr Pepper Museum, said two buildings at the Dr Pepper Museum complex were “certified haunted locations,” by the McLennan County Paranormal Investigations.

The McLennan County Paranormal Investigations, a local group that investigates claims from members of the community of paranormal activity, said the 1906 Artesian Manufacturing and Bottling Co. building and the nearby Kellum-Rotan Building are allegedly haunted.

The group came to investigate the museum in 2009 and claimed to find three activities that may be paranormal in nature. The group does all its investigations free of charge, though they do accept donations.

They said they had found evidence of small orb-like lights seemingly ascending stairs behind the main entrance, as well as unexplained lights in exhibits where the lights were turned off. Also, an audio clip obtained by the organization has been claimed by some to be the voice of a young child saying, “Here comes the train.” That clip is claimed to have been recorded when a train could be heard nearby.

Mike Jacobus, who founded the organization with his wife in 2008, said that they have spent around $3,000 on equipment for use in their investigations. Many of these pieces of equipment measure electromagnetic fields and audio, as well as temperature changes.

Mike Jacobus said he was skeptical of the paranormal at first, but later came to see his work with the paranormal as a way of helping others.

“I’m a Christian, I’m a Southern Baptist Christian. I went into this skeptical. I went into this to prove, ‘No, this can’t be.’ I was skeptical of ghosts staying on this earth,” Jacobus said. “I was kind of having a tough time with it until I talked with my pastor. He asked me, ‘Well son, let me ask you this. Do you think it’s a calling?’ and I never thought of that. But it felt like a calling; it felt like I was compelled to do this — to help people.”

Visitors also got to walk through the museum again and were encouraged to take photos to see if they could experience the paranormal for themselves.

Nikki Garcia, a visitor to the event, said she has “always been fascinated by the paranormal.” Garcia brought an EMF detector with her to the event and attempted to detect any electromagnetic changes in several rooms of the museum.

“In the [vault], I did get a little bit of a spike in there, but I really didn’t get too much this time. My guess is that we are a group of people. That could be a reason [for less activity],” Garcia said.

This year marks the third year of the event, but new to the event Wednesday night was a glow-in-the-dark tote bag. The bag replaced a T-shirt, which was given to visitors after the event last year.

Promotional materials advertised the event with Halloween-themed social media posts, including a graphic of a cartoon ghost emerging from the front of the museum with the text “haunted location” beneath it. This graphic also was displayed on the tote bag given to visitors at the end of the tour.

The tour guides said that even though they showed video of the supposed paranormal activity, the museum wanted individuals to decide if they believed it or not.

“It’s up to you to determine the truth,” one said at the beginning of the tour.