Wekiva Island: A ghost story

We all know Wekiva Island as somewhere to hang out with loved ones, grab a drink and float down the amazing Wekiva River exploring the real Florida. What most people don’t know is we often have some friendly guests that are not always visible to the eye. No, it is not the Halloween spirit taking over—we are talking about ghosts.

In the past, workers and guests alike have thought they’ve seen something out of the corner of their eye or even felt a chill when walking around The Island. A year ago, in August, one of our favorite regulars, Franco, unexpectedly passed away. Franco could be found at The Island on any given day with a Landshark in one hand and a fishing pole in the other. He traditionally sat at the same table and kept the same company.

In recent months, we’ve had multiple employees say they thought they had seen Franco wandering around Wekiva Island out of the corner of their eye. Knowing that this hadn’t been our first rodeo with ghosts, we called up American Ghost Adventures to help us out.

What first started as disbelief and attempting to reminisce about the anniversary of a death turned into an unbelievable experience of rekindling a friendship with one of our regulars. It all started at the Classroom. We entered the Classroom and set up four flashlights around the room and a device that would help trace the sound waves in our area.

Immediately the word “outside” was appearing on the sound wave device. Ting, one of American Ghost Adventures’ Ghost Ambassadors, spoke to what seemed like no one, asking if we could talk in here for a while. She then took out two dowsing rods to help communicate. She asked a variety of questions, asking any spirits to make an “X” with the rods if the answer was yes.

One of our first questions came from Carrie, one of our longtime managers who knew Franco well. She asked, “Do you want a Landshark?” The rods immediately crossed. As excitement and fear filled the room, we knew more questions needed to be asked. Kevin, a great friend of The Island and Franco, was handed the rods next and it seemed like an immediate connection.  He asked the next couple questions, “Do you know anyone here?” “Were you a customer?” “Do you like fishing?” and “Are you a male?” all resulted with the same rods crossing. When Kevin asked if the spirit could point to who it knew, the rods immediately whipped around and pointed to him.

Holding Dowsing Rods

Shortly after, the words “under”, “highway” and “outside” started appearing on the sound wave device, and it brought up more memories. Years ago, one of our beloved Wekiva Island workers, Conrad, passed away. Franco and Conrad were friends and often spent time on State Road 46 under the highway. With chills rushing down our spines, we were eager to ask more questions.

Following the spirit’s direction outside, we moved to the Wine Room at the Tooting Otter. Flashlights were set up around different parts of the room again, and we called out to see if anyone was there. With no one near the flashlights, they began to turn on one by one. In an attempt to figure out exactly who was in the room with us, we decided to play a game. We went through each letter of the alphabet and told the spirits to light up their flashlight when we reached the first letter of their name. Immediately a light turned on for “A”. As we went through the alphabet the same thing happened to two other flashlights with different letters.

As we played the game, we took out the dowsing rods once more and asked Franco where he was. The rods pointed outside to the table where he always sat. We asked if he wanted us to go out there, and the rods crossed. Before we left, we said goodbye to the spirits we had just met and asked if they could look after The Island and keep all of its guests safe. All of the lights flickered in agreement. When we went outside, we brought a Landshark to Franco’s table. Communicating through the rods, we said our goodbyes and asked if he was happy. The rods crossed once more and we opened the Landshark and had another beer with an old friend. We know what you are thinking. There is no way. If you asked some of us before this session started, we would’ve agreed, but after this experience it’s hard to not believe. So, if next time you’re at the Island you feel a passing chill or catch something out of the corner of your eye, we hope you’ll raise a glass and thank those watching over us—especially our friends.