A friend of mine posted this story on Facebook, saying Nicolas Cage was signed on to do a movie about an urban legend about the largest mass disappearance in U.S. history which happened at a hotel outside of Williamsport, allegedly.
[Note: Yahoo and Variety updated the story to say Cage hasn't officially signed on yet.]
I went to college in Williamsport. I’ve lived in the Valley for the majority of my life and I’ve never heard of this. Ever. Not once.
So I went to Google for answers. And the answer is complicated.
Williamsport, PA: On May 10, 1953, police discovered that all 32 people that were in the Grand Hotel on opening night— including guests and staff – disappeared. They vanished without a trace; their possessions left behind. The city boarded up the hotel and swept the story under the carpet. It became an urban legend, a myth, and residents started referring to the property as “Hotel 32.” In early 1993, the hotel was reopened and turned into a haunted tourist attraction. On April 10, 1993, three boys—Troy Belger, Rob Laden and Jacob Carr—spent the night in Hotel 32, Jacob Carr was never to be found again. On April 12, 1993, Detective Richard Kaminsky died while interrogating the two boys regarding their missing friend. Shortly after, the hotel mysteriously burned down and “Hotel 33” would become the center of a controversial haunted house tale for years to come.
So this is a move to conjure up some publicity for the movie and the city? Why am I so offended?
Here’s some commenters on the movie’s Facebook page saying it better than I could:
Anthony Leone: Never mind, it’s a fake. You know, faking events actually leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths. This is the age of the internet where facts can easily be searched. (Or just a few simple phone calls.) But now that I know that it’s a faked and people are being lied to, I really don’t want to see the movie now. Had Hotel 33 just came right out and been truthful that they are making a new movie and the events aren’t real, then I would have seen it.
Michael Blackwell: I’m all for a good ghost story Melissa, but not this crap they are trying to push. If you want to use our town for a ghost story, than at least use something like Allison’s Grave that has a history. Don’t make up a history and try and tell everyone it happened.
Theresa Brundage: Dear people of Williamsport, We’re filming a horror movie in your city and we hope you like it. It’ll be a great economic boost for the area and we think it’s good story. We won’t insult your intelligence by shoving a flimsy charade down your throats and insist it’s all fact. – Hugs, Hotel 33 (There I fixed it for ya).
Recently, my father brought home an old copy of the News Item he found in his childhood home. It was pretty cool to see how wide old newspapers were and how much things were back in the 1970s – I believe bananas were 9 cents per pound.
Here’s the front page to get a sample of how big that is:
That’s eight columns. Most papers today are six, and a skinny six at that in some cases.
But even though that is cool, we wondered why the newspaper had been preserved. Something special had to have happened that would cause my Mam and Pap to save the paper.
After we flipped the front page over – we didn’t have to guess any longer.
See that handsome devil to the far right? That’s none other than Greg – in his about 16-year-old glory. He was newspaper boy of the year.
And he still looks exactly like that. Just with more gray hair.
So there it is, newspaper preserving these precious memories that would have been lost for all eternity – so that your kids can look back and laugh at you.
Just kidding – we only laughed a little bit…..OK, a lot.
The last two days of this week have been eaten up by the raid at Minuteman in Milton – and there’s one question that just keeps popping up: What is going on and what do the law enforcement agents think is going on?
[One thing not mentioned: the massively awesome sunburn I got from standing outside Minuteman Wednesday morning. I'm going to have to wear shirts that cover my forearm for the forseeable future to cover the ridiculous farmer's tan I got.]
I don’t have any sure answers and those people that do aren’t talking right now.
So I’m just putting it out there once again: If you work at Minuteman or have some insight and want to talk, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Francis Scarcella at email@example.com.
And check back at dailyitem.com for the latest we have on the situation.
It’s what has become one of the most hotly debated topics in the Valley – whether or not embattled Chief Donald Zerbe should be allowed to walk away from allegations he offered speeders the opportunity to donate to the Hartleton Playground Fund or whether he should face the music.