The first Connecticut Paranormal Convention, aka ParaConn, is happening July 24 and 25 at the Ansonia Armory, and some of the spirits have checked in early. While choosing the location for the event, the organizers were pleased to discover it was haunted.
The spiritual forces behind ParaConn are local promoter Charles Rosenay!!!, known for his “Terror Tours” to Transylvania and elsewhere, and Nick Grossmann, a clairvoyant who runs a paranormal investigation business called Ghost Storm.
Rosenay!!! (who legally added three explanation points to his surname decades ago) believes ParaConn is “the first-ever paranormal convention in Connecticut.” Planning began 14 months ago, in the thick of the COVID pandemic. “We took a chance on some dates, and found a large indoor venue with a lot of space.”
It turned out that a spiritual presence was detected in the basement, which used to be a firing range. “It’s not the main reason we picked that location,” Rosenay!!! says, “but it sealed the deal.”
Grossman and Rosenay!!! do paranormal visits together. “For a while, he’s been saying “Let’s do a convention. For me it’s not a far reach. I do the Dracula tours, the Ghost tours. It all blends in.” Rosenay!!! has been organizing events in Connecticut since the 1970s, including Beatles conventions (such as the Fab 4 Festival he held in Ansonia earlier this month). He’s also the creator of the FrightHaven Haunted House attraction that terrifies visitors every October.
A similar thing happened with Rosenay!!!’s Fright Haven attraction as with the Armory. “Nick told me it was haunted for real and I didn’t believe him. It turns out it was on the site of an old burial ground.”
Rosenay!!! believes that paranormal events work best with a pair of collaborators where “one is the shaman and the other is the showman.” In the case of ParaConn, he’s the showman, skilled in marketing and producing, while Grossmann is the “shaman” with a rare understanding of the spirit world.
Rosenay!!! sees a similar relationship between the internationally renowned Connecticut-based ghost hunters Ed and Lorraine Warren, whose cases inspired books and films such as “The Amityville Horror,” “The Haunting in Connecticut” and “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It.” While both the Warrens were committed to their investigations, Rosenay!!! feels Ed (who died in 2006) was the savvier promoter of the two. In any case, their stature in the paranormal field remains unequaled.
“You know how magicians always refer to Houdini?,” Rosenay!!! says. “For a generation, that’s what the Warrens have been to the paranormal community. When people think of the paranormal, they think of the Warrens.”
Some of the special guests at ParaConn knew or worked with the Warrens, including the psychic medium Kathy Churuszcz and Bill Hall, who wrote the book “The World’s Most Haunted House” about the building at 966 Lindsley St. in Bridgeport.
Beyond the Warren connection, Connecticut “has always been a hotbed of paranormal activity,” Rosenay!!! says — especially in the region where ParaConn is being held.
Grossmann believes that the part of the state known as The Valley, which he refers to as “The Connecticut Triangle,” is a major vortex of supernatural activity, not just in Connecticut but in the entire country. The Valley encompasses Ansonia, Beacon Falls, Derby, Naugatuck, Oxford, Seymour, and Shelton.
Other ParaConn guests include: demonologist Sean Austin (seen on TV’s “Demon Files”); the paranormal research team of Christine and Daniel Peer; Barry Pirro, who bills himself as “Connecticut Ghost Hunter”; Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP) specialist Eric Conner of the Epic Paranormal investigators; metaphysics scholar and art curator Johnes Ruta; artist Ralph Levesque, whose paintings draw from what he recalls of his experiences being abducted by extraterrestrials; Paul Ferrante, who writes the T.J. Jackson series of young adult horror novels (including “Curse of the Fairfield Witch”); another fiction writer, Tim McLaughlin of the “Tall Tales” series; the Seymour-based Connecticut Paranormal and Supernatural Tracking Society; the East Coast Paranormal Photography, which documents haunted buildings; and the New Haven-based visual arts duo The Frankenstein Twins.
Grossmann, who has experience performing exorcisms, will display some of his extensive collection of haunted artifacts at the convention. Rosenay!!! will discuss one of his own forthcoming projects, “The Book of Top 10 Horror Lists,” which includes lists gathered from dozens of celebrities.
Furthering the deft blend of fiction and nonfiction found at the convention, a custom van resembling the Mystery Machine from the iconic cartoon series “Scooby-Doo Where Are You?” and its many spinoffs will be parked both days for photo opportunities.
The main attraction for some may be the vendor tables. Rosenay!!! says the more than 60 vendors will offer everything from “books and crystals to posters and horror figurines. It’s probably the largest marketplace in all of the paranormal conventions.” About half of the vendors are Connecticut-based, many hailing from within the “Connecticut triangle” of which Ansonia is a part.
“People say they don’t believe in the supernatural,” Rosenay!!! says, “but everyone has had strange experiences.”
The convention runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Ansonia Armory, 10 N. State St., Ansonia. Admission is $14.99 per day, or $19.99 for an “early bird” ticket that lets you in at 10 a.m. and also gets you “a souvenir gift and other benefits.” Tickets are at paraconn.ticketleap.com/paraconn. More information on ParaConn can be found at paraconn.org or by calling 203-795-4737.