Legendary Ghost of Holiday Inn Refuses to Check Out
Published: Wednesday, October 27, 2004
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
When guests come to stay at the Holiday Inn, they expect to enjoy the same comforts any hotel would provide to their guests.
But according to employees, visitors to the Grand Island location sometimes receive a little something extra: A visit from the ghost of a little girl named Tanya.
The details of Tanya's origin vary, but the essence of each story is the same.
"The most common legend is that the property that our Holiday Inn was built on in 1972 used to be known as the White Haven settlement, where there was a mansion," said Dale Van Alstine, director of catering at the Holiday Inn. "Supposedly there had been a fire and the little girl who lived in the mansion was killed in the fire."
Legend or no legend, sightings and paranormal activities have been very much a reality for as long as the hotel has been standing, according to Van Alstine.
One of the most common manifestations of Tanya's playfulness, he said, is her tendency to launch objects around a room. Books have been flung from bookcases on a regular basis.
"The object coming off the shelf would go out and down, instead of just tipping or falling straight down off the shelf," said Van Alstine.
Van Alstine, who has worked at the Holiday Inn on Grand Island for almost 30 years, says he has witnessed much of this paranormal activity. He even claims to have encountered the ghost of Tanya herself.
"It was 5:30 in the morning and I looked outside and saw a little girl in her nightgown playing in the grass," said Van Alstine. "It was so early in the morning, so I was naturally concerned that maybe she had wandered out of her room and her parents didn't know where she was."
Van Alstine retrieved his keys and walked outside to talk to the little girl.
"She got up and ran towards an old smokehouse we have on property, and I followed her. As I turned around the corner of the smokehouse where she had run, she wasn't there anymore," he said.
Stories of Tanya and her paranormal pranks have caught nationwide attention, having been featured in several print publications and television shows. The phenomenon has been investigated locally as well.
A local psychic, Bernice Golden, is one of many who have come looking for Tanya. According to Van Alstine, her search was successful.
"Bernice has come to our property and said that we have many entities here," said Van Alstine.
But not all seekers have been graced by the little girl's presence.
Joe Nickel of the Committee for Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal visited the hotel after hearing the earliest reports of its ghostly visitor.
According to published accounts, a housekeeper had been cleaning a room on the fourth floor shortly after the hotel opened in 1973. She reported seeing the ghost of a little girl standing in the doorway. Startled, the housekeeper screamed.
Nickel chose that site, where witnesses have reported the most activity, to conduct his research.
"I spent the night in haunted room 422, which is supposed to be haunted by a child ghost named Tanya. I did not experience any paranormal activity when I was there," said Nickel.
Nickel does not believe the housekeeper fabricated the encounter, but gives reasons as to how she might have been mistaken about what she saw.
"It is very common for people like the housekeeper who perform routine jobs, like chores such as making beds and cleaning rooms, to relapse into a daydreaming state where things can well up from their subconscious," said Nickel.
Nickel also points out that there is no scientific evidence that ghosts exist.
"It's a popular fantasy that has been around for a very long time."
Further research showed problems even with the historical evidence with which Nickel had been provided, and which many people, such as Van Alstine, have reported to believe.
"I did research and checked with the Grand Island Historian and there is no evidence that there was a mansion that burnt down or that a little girl was killed," said Nickel. "There was a fire in 1963, but there were no fatalities and no girl by the name of Tanya was found."
Nickel said the telling aspect of Van Alstine's experience is the fact that it occurred at 5:30 a.m.
"People can see things when they are extremely tired or have a vivid imagination. The people that have very vivid imaginations are called 'fantasy prone' people, and they claim to have frequent encounters with ghosts, angels, aliens, etc," said Nickel. "It's like the adult version of a playmate."
Because of his personal experience with such sightings, it's sometimes hard for guests and employees like Van Alstine not to believe in this legend.
"A lot of the truth behind the legend is based on what your personal beliefs are," said Van Alstine.
However, Nickel has a motto that he uses to explain any paranormal activity that occurs, such as the legend of Tanya at the Holiday Inn on Grand Island:
"There are no haunted places, only haunted people," said Nickel.