By Vanessa Renee Hogle
There’s a lot of buzz surrounding the Paracons, especially around Halloween. Teams from all over the country get together at their location of choice to praise, or bash, other teams and their work. I’ve heard it all, which is one of the reasons I hadn’t partaken of any of these events previously. I’ve seen the aftermath. I’ve listened with intent ears, and chose to stay away due to what I’ve heard, in the past. The schmoozing to the face, and whispers behind the back. It simply wasn’t my cup of tea. I’ve always been warned, “if you don’t know so and so you are shunned so why go?”
If I’m being honest, I was, really, very worried about this. I am, admittedly, the underdog of the paranormal community. I have no idea whose ass to kiss, nor would I if I did. I simply don’t roll that way. However, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I wanted to be accepted, at least for a short time, a few days, even, to be amongst those in the field who may value my opinion. Imagine my surprise when that happened.
From the moment we rolled into New Orleans I was embraced by those who had never laid eyes on me, in person. Within the hour the ball was put in motion to have me, little ol’ nobody me, read a haunted bakery for a local news station. Granted, this could have gone to any number of people already in attendance at Haunted Bourbon Paracon, but it didn’t. They were all quite busy and were not bothered at all about a “new comer” taking this on. Granted, they are all psychic, too, and just may have known food poisoning was going to follow. Hmmm …. there’s a thought to chew on! Either way, I was given the opportunity to show what I do, on TV, and it just happened to go national.
By the time we got to the Hilton Garden Inn, the hotel hosting the Paracon, most of the gang was already there. We were welcomed with open arms as if they had known us all along. It really was quite a wonderful feeling. I would be remiss if I didn’t give a huge shout out to Sasha Klanott and David Boudreaux for taking on the task of organizing this event. I know how much work they both put into it and I can assure you, it was not easy. But it isn’t just that. It’s the love I felt from them for the field they are in. For the people that they wanted to bring to New Orleans…the city they love. You could feel it in the smallest details. Their effort. Their thoughtfulness. Right down to the “meet and greet” at the bar, “Spirits on Bourbon,” complete with a big dish of homemade jambalaya just waiting for us to dive in to. And, believe me, I did! I’m not even sure how many people I hugged that night, but it was quite a few. I Finally got to meet Terri Sacco Rohde, Tracy Watts, Jay Lynch, Teresa Lynch and Maria Schmidt. Not once did I feel unwelcome, or as if I was an afterthought. This was what I had been waiting for. What I had been hoping for. Camaraderie. People, I gotta tell ya, it was nice. From where I was sitting the egos were left at the door. That isn’t something you see a lot of in this field. Take note, folks.
The next day we were set to have our panel discussion. The topic was “Facts and Myths about Psychics.” I must admit, this is what I was most stoked about. The panel consisted of Sasha Klanott, Tina Marie Ronin, Scotty Rorek and myself. Terri Sacco Rohde was a doll and aired the discussion, live for us on social media. To be able to take part in such a discussion, to educate and illuminate others on the pros and cons of what we do, was priceless. I am honored for the opportunity to have participated in such an event. That’s what I think we forget, sometimes. Any invitation to participate and educate is an honor. It means people still value what we have to say, to teach. Never forget that. It could be tomorrow that the invitations cease to come any longer. I wish I could have stayed for the big reveal of National Ghost Hunting day, but I had promised my son some beignets at Café beignets.
Later that evening we all waited in the alleyway in front of Pirates Alley Café for our tour guide, Jonathan Weiss. It was unbelievably cold and my son, Jana and myself all huddled together to try and block some of the wind. Tour guides came and went, each with their crowds of guests hanging onto every word they said. I almost felt sorry for them, truly. So many that I heard, as they passed by, were getting the “watered down” version on New Orleans. The “what can I find on google” New Orleans. Hell, one tour guide even referred to American Horror Story while he was giving his tour. I wouldn’t normally have a problem with this but … he called the show “The Covenant” … not “Coven.”
I wanted to yell at every person, hanging onto what they thought, were pearls of wisdom dropping from his lips, and tell them to join us and our guide. I am going to take full credit for introducing Jonathan and Sasha. As far as I’m concerned you will not find a better tour guide, or one more knowledgeable on Vampires, than Jonathan Weiss. Tracy Watts even commented on how impressed she was. Not only is he an amazing historian and folklorist, but he’s a very dashing old soul who would have been right at home with the likes of Lestat, Louie and Claudia … if they were real. He is truly that good at what he does.
All in all, I think the weekend was a total success, food poisoning aside. I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into when I signed up for this, but I’m damn glad I jumped off the cliff and gave it a try. There was no better place for me to do this than my home away from home, New Orleans. I’m as comfortable there as I am in my own skin and you can bet your ass I will be at the next one. Sasha has asked me to be a speaker at Haunted Bourbon Paracon in November 2018, and, again, I consider it an honor.
A huge thank you to all who attended…and a big shout out to those who participated!! Please forgive me if I forget anybody…the whole thing was a whirlwind for me!!
Sasha Klanott, David Boudreaux, Jason Snider, Maria Schmidt, Scott Tepperman, Captain Jack (love this dog), Jay and Teresa Lynch, Jay and Marie Yates, Scotty and Terri Rorek, Tina Marie Ronin, Terri Sacco Rohde, Tracy Watts and Jonathan Weiss.
Thank you all so much for the love you showed! Can’t wait to see all ya’ll again!