Spirited Cassadaga, Florida

Not your average Florida street corner. Photo by Chelle Koster Walton
Not your average Florida street corner. Photo by Chelle Koster Walton

The “spirited” conversation began the night before we departed for Cassadega, Florida, and our 7 p.m. appointment for a séance.

The responses to my post to our group flew in like so many ghosts: “How does one pack for an overnight girl’s séance trip to Caasadega?”

From Birgie, one of the group: “I’m letting the spirits guide me in my packing . . .”

From another friend: “Flower crowns and vodka.”

My response to that: “They’re actually telling us not to drink (much) before the séance, but I may need wine or vodka after to sleep in the purportedly haunted Cassadega Hotel.”

From a fellow Florida travel writer: “Yes, it is haunted. Man wearing too much cologne – which does NOT mask the cigar smell – likes to touch your toes.”

We were already familiar with that cigar-smoking ghost. We had made the trip to Cassadega a few years ago to have readings and a tour of the Florida town and its Spiritualist Camp. On the tour, we learned about Arthur, a former opera singer from New York, who has a penchant for cigars and booze.

We did not actually see a ghost, but my friend Colleen swears that when she went to the porch of the Cassadaga Hotel to have a cigarette, the empty chair at her table started rocking. Arthur looking for a smoke?

As odd as it may seem that a number of Cassadega’s population are, well, dead — the living population has its own quirks: It consists of about 200 Spiritualists, psychics, mediums, and healers. I’m fairly open-minded about all that, but was ready to give it all an objective assessment.

“We get a lot of good spirits here because we welcome spirits,” said Lillian Selph, one of the living who guided our tour, which started at the Cassadega Bookstore, across the street from the Cassadaga Hotel.

Cassadega Hotel

Built in the 1920s, the block-long, two-floor hotel is not your average flappers-age accommodation. Besides the fact that guests report visits from Arthur, the hotel strays from the norm with its schedule of group readings, séances and other psychic events. Inscriptions on the wall of the lobby’s ladies rooms speak of fairies and enlightenment. The gift shop carries crystals and essential oils. Not to mention the self-propelled rocking chair on the porch.

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