Meet the Real (and Pretend) Ghostbusters of New Jersey
The long-awaited reboot hits theaters Friday, but New Jersey has had its own versions of "ghostbusters" all along.
Some are only pretending for entertainment value; others are the real deal, logging hours upon hours of research into paranormal activity and how to get rid of it if necessary.
Every weekend, the New Jersey Ghost Hunters Society handles concerns from Garden State residents who believe they're dealing with powers from beyond the grave, according to the group's director, L'Aura Hladik Hoffman.
"It's usually someone who's moved into a place and they're experiencing stuff that they know shouldn't be happening," Hoffman told Townsquare Media.
The lights are turning on and off on their own. The TV is jumping channels. The dog is growling at ... something.
The group is equipped with all the basic gizmos needed to search for definitive proof of a spiritual presence. Thermal scanners, EMF meters and digital video/audio devices are key, Hoffman said.
Following a free-of-charge investigation from NJGHS, the group compiles the data and hands a report to the homeowner or business owner. If paranormal activity is detected, the group offers one of three recommendations: deal with it, get rid of it, or sell the property.
Using the right tools and words, Hoffman has conducted many "cleansing" rituals for those who are interested in doing away with any invisible guests.
"I have a certain chant that I do, which is very commanding...letting anything from any other realm know, on no uncertain terms, 'Your time here is done; get out,'" Hoffman said.
NJGHS is one of dozens of paranormal societies that call New Jersey home.
While they wouldn't mind running into a spirit or two and firing their proton packs, the group Ghostbusters New Jersey doesn't have much knowledge on how to defeat the non-living.
But they're still called on regularly by residents — just for different reasons.
The group is comprised of Ghostbusters franchise mega fans who aim to put a smile on people's faces just by showing up, rolling in on the Ecto-1 vehicle, dressed in flight suits identical to the outfits worn in the movies.
"It started off with Comic-Cons, showing up at a local comic shop," said the group's Thomas Gebhardt. "We still do all that, but now we get to do things like raise funds for children's cancer research or Make-A-Wish Foundation."
Gebhardt said the group takes on nearly 50 shows or appearances per year, posing for photos and training folks to become an honorary Ghostbuster.
Gebhardt and New Jersey Ghostbusters, along with similar fan groups, are featured in the documentary "Ghostheads," which dives deeper into the realm of Ghostbuster fandom. Its scheduled Netflix release date is July 15, the same date the all-female "Ghostbusters" remake hits the big screen.