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Night In Bachelor Grove Brings Ghostly Memories

Night In Bachelor Grove Brings Ghostly Memories
The Star - Tinley Park - Tinley Park, IL USA
September 24, 2000
Ed Pilolla

At first, Larissa Zageris didn't think a ghost was waving at her and neither did her friend.

They thought they were looking at their other friend, who was actually at least 50 feet away in the thick woods, sitting in the graveyard in Midlothian's Bachelor Grove.

It was past 10 p.m. last Saturday, three days after a full moon. Pale light dusted the forest preserve floor and the two girls felt relieved that their pal, a senior boy, was so close by in these particular woods.

The three high schoolers found themselves in the legendary forest preserve last weekend because Zageris, a junior at Bremen High School, was chosen by a TV production company to spend an evening there along with her two pals.

Nationally renowned Bachelors Grove has for years haunted the imaginations of teens and ghost chasers alike with its dark reputation.

At nightfall, some say, ghosts and balls of blue light float among trees. Some say a farmhouse appears in the distance from time to time.

Still, the students accepted the challenge of spending some 12 hours there.

They arrived in the early afternoon.

Outfitted with a camcorder, a walkie-talkie and a dim lantern each, the three high schoolers watched the sun set from the graveyard headstones before the TV crew decided to leave them alone.

"I get scared pretty easily," said Zageris last week, remembering an evening she said she'll never forget. "Originally, we were going to split up just to explore, but then, I wouldn't have any of that."

So Mark Johnson of Midlothian stayed by himself in the graveyard while the girls together inched through the blackness toward the quarry pond next to the fenced in cemetery.

That, they say, is when it started.

Footsteps at first, and then dancing blue lights — the very lights seen and whispered about for decades among visitors to the cemetery.

"They were like two blue orbs floating through the woods," recalled Lisa Skoczen, a senior at Tinley Park High School.

Cold fear began to set in on the girls, so they turned toward Johnson, or what they thought was Johnson.

By the Fulton gravestone, the largest gravestone in the often vandalized and pillaged cemetery, the girls said they eyeballed an unfocused white figure.

That's Mark, they said, in the glow of his lantern. Isn't it?

And yet, the girls thought, it doesn't look like Mark.

They spoke into the walkie talkie for Johnson to wave.

No wave.

They told him again, and the now more feminine figure waved over its head.

But a moment later the figure was gone. The girls hustled up the path looking for Johnson and found him on the other side of the cemetery.

"How did you move so fast?" Skoczen asked.

"I've been here the whole time," Johnson said.

The three teens had seen enough. They saw it, her, whatever it was, and they were outta there.

Zageris led the way at full sprint, pausing briefly up the road to tell the TV crew the gig's up. The night had ended abruptly and early for the three friends.

Last week, Johnson was still shaken by the girls' story. He had never been to Bachelor Grove before last weekend and didn't see or hear anything unusual while he sat in the cemetery. He said he'll go back, but "it'll take a while."

Skoczen plans to return to the grove this weekend with friends to see the "white lady" close up.

(Cook County officials report the cemetery is closed to the public at sunset. Sheriff's police gave the teens permission to be in the cemetery last Saturday night, the teens said.)

But Zageris will never go back. She said she believed in ghosts before last weekend, but she never saw one until Saturday.

"Something is back there," she hissed last week.

And yet, more than anything, all three teens are anxious to see the camcorder footage Skoczen filmed. She never took her finger off the record button and claims to have filmed the white lady and the blue orbs.

That footage, said TV producers in New York, will air on Fox sometime near Halloween.

Ed Pilolla may be reached at (708) 802-8812.