Lisa and Cliff Kennedy – Familiar South Shore Faces – Real Life Ghost Hunters
Have you ever seen a ghost?
Lisa and Cliff Kennedy are long-time South Shore residents and you probably recognize them.
Both have served as Honorary Mayors of Riverview, through the Riverview Chamber of Commerce (Lisa in 2012 and Cliff in 2014). Many of you may have used the services of their company, Alley Cat Pest Control (fingers crossed you haven’t needed them!). Others may recognize them from their work with the Ruskin Seafood festival and other local events. Cliff, a musician, often handles the music side of local events and Lisa’s dad, also a musician, is often on stage.
Where you probably don’t know them from is through their Apollo Paranormal Team. Lisa and Cliff are real-life ghost hunters.
A Believer and A Skeptic
The paranormal has been somewhat of a life-long interest for Lisa.
“When I was about 8 or 9 years old I had my first experience,” Lisa says. “I was awakened in the middle of the night to find a man standing at the end of my bed. I screamed and he went under my bed.”
When Lisa’s mom came to check on her there was nobody under her bed, but Lisa knew something unusual had happened. Incidentally, they lived next door to a cemetery.
Lisa and her family never really talked about that incident until years later when Lisa learned that her mother, aunt and grand-mother had also all had paranormal experiences. In fact, Lisa’s mom admitted to having seen the ‘apparition’ in Lisa’s bedroom all those years ago, but did not want to frighten her young daughter.
Fast forward to 2004. A TV show called Ghost Hunters, about real ghost hunters, airs and Lisa and Cliff both start watching.
“I got really curious,” Lisa says. “Are they really capturing paranormal sounds and voices on those recorders?”
Cliff, on the other hand, was a skeptic. “As a musician I knew you could do all kinds of stuff with sound. I figured they were making this stuff happen for TV.”
During this same time period, Cliff and Lisa worked at the Howl-O-Scream event at Busch Gardens. It was there they met their friend Angelo, who was also interested in the paranormal. Angelo became an original member of Lisa and Cliff’s paranormal investigative team.
Fort De Soto Is Haunted
In the beginning, Lisa, Cliff and Angelo were just curious. They decided to Google ‘haunted’ places in the area. A story about Fort De Soto came up. The story claimed the old fort was, in fact, haunted.
“We went out there late one night” Cliff says. “And, we snuck into the Fort after it closed. We didn’t have any real equipment, only a digital voice recorder. We wanted to try to capture EVP, or Electronic Voice Phenomenon.”
When they arrived Lisa opted to not enter the room in the fort where they were investigating. She felt a bad vibe about it and decided to stay outside. Cliff and Angelo did go in. They tried asking ‘the spirits’ relevant questions, a methodology ghost hunters use to connect with the ghosts, but they got nothing. They didn’t hear or see anything. “We really felt kind of silly,” Cliff says, “until we got home.”
On a whim, Lisa decided to listen to the recording Cliff and Angelo had made earlier that night. Within 45 seconds of listening a faint voice was heard. “It was a woman,” Lisa says. “We weren’t expecting that. She was saying, ‘I can’t move my arms.Help me. Help me’.”
Lisa, Cliff and their friend were now hooked. They knew something was going on and they wanted to do more.
Apollo Paranormal Team Is Born
The name Apollo Paranormal was inspired by many things. Apollo Beach, of course, is the most obvious and did play a role in naming the team. Cliff had also always dreamed of investigating the Apollo 1 launch pad and the name Apollo is common in Greek mythology. Apollo Paranormal made sense.
Following the Fort De Soto experience Lisa and Cliff became interested in learning more about ghost hunting. They researched, learned, got professional equipment and set out to do investigations.
Today, the experienced ghost hunting team uses digital voice recorders, K2 Meters which detect electromagnetic fields, cell censors, thermometers, a ‘zoom’ (a super-sensitive recording device) and experimental equipment.
Apollo Paranormal is a team of 7, a team Lisa and Cliff have built carefully over several years. They’ve completed over 200 investigations.
“You have to be professional,” Cliff says. “We’re going into people’s homes, museums and other places. You need professional people, not just any ghost-hunting wanna be’s.”
A Paranormal Investigation
A typical investigation begins when Apollo Paranormal is contacted by someone who believes they have paranormal activity. This could be a private home or a public place.
When someone contacts them, Apollo Paranormal does a lot of homework before taking a case. It starts with an in-depth interview to understand what may (or may not) be happening. If the case appears to have merit, they move forward. Apollo Paranormal does not charge for investigations.
First, they conduct extensive research on the area and exact place where the paranormal activity is thought to be taking place. They need to learn the location’s in-depth history so they can prepare their investigation accordingly. During an investigation the team will try to contact the spirits so it’s helpful to understand who the spirits might be.
“It’s important to know what may have taken place in the home or on the property,” Lisa says. “Part of an investigation includes trying to contact the ghosts, so you must try to understand who the apparition might be.”
Once the research is done, the team sets up a live investigation, which is usually done throughout a night.
“We like to work at night because it’s most quiet and we’re less likely to pick up noises from the outside. We also work in the dark when possible, again, it’s quietest and calmest,” Cliff says.
Ghosts Aren’t Scary
Many individuals who call Apollo Paranormal for help are scared by the bizarre and unexplained things happening in their homes, but Cliff and Lisa believe, for the most part, ghosts are not scary or negative.
“While it’s possible there are negative spirits out there, our investigative conclusions have never come back that the spirit is negative,” Cliff says. “But when strange and unexplained things happen in your home, repeatedly, it can be frightening.”
The team once discovered a ghost that would turn a couple’s bathroom light on and off several times at 6:00PM. Prior to the investigation the husband continually accused the wife of leaving the light on. When the Apollo Paranormal team told them what was happening the husband and wife were both startled and relieved. It turned out to be harmless paranormal activity and the wife was off the hook.
The goal of Apollo Paranormal’s investigations is to obtain evidence to prove or debunk alleged paranormal activity and give individuals peace of mind. Once the investigation is complete the Apollo Paranormal team returns to the place of the investigation to present the findings. At the same time they advise the person what in what direction they can go to solve a paranormal situation. Solutions can vary from inviting a priest to bless the space, or simply inviting the spirit to leave and reclaiming the space (reclaiming a space typically works).
Boo: Lots of Area Destinations Are Haunted
The Apollo Paranormal team has done over 200 investigations in the area, including several well-known landmarks and destinations.
Most recently, they were invited to do a private investigation at the St. Augustine Light house. They’re still reviewing their findings.
They’ve also done multiple investigations at the Ringling House in Sarasota. “That house has tons of activity,” Lisa says. “The Ringlings’ presence is often experienced by employees and visitors.”
Other investigations at well-known places include the Cuban Club in Ybor City and the Stanford Inn in Bartow, both of which also have paranormal activity.
One of the most interesting on-going investigations they’ve run is at Fantasy of Flight, the event venue and aircraft museum in Polk City. A museum visitor had contacted Cliff after having had a paranormal experience at the museum. Cliff then approached Fantasy of Flight’s owner, Kermit Weeks, about conducting an investigation. “We knew this museum visitor must have been a messenger of some kind and we knew we needed to investigate,” Cliff says. Kermit welcomed the investigation.
Cliff and Lisa subsequently learned about more strange paranormal activity at the flight museum. Several visitors had noted seeing an old man in the B-12 Bomber in the aircraft section of the museum. The man was sitting in the bomber and giving guests information,” Cliff says. “The guests went as far as asking the museum staff who the man was.” As it turns out, there was no man.
While Cliff and Lisa never encountered the man in the B-12 bomber, further investigation at Fantasy of Flight revealed tons of paranormal activity, particularly heavy in the ‘Officer’s Club’ exhibition.
Lisa and Cliff and the Apollo Paranormal team went on to host night time tours and paranormal investigation events at Fantasy of Flight.
Are You A Believer?
Until my visit with Lisa and Cliff I would have put myself on the side of slightly skeptical, but my visit moved that dial quite a bit. I spent several hours listening to stories from their investigations and listening to recordings. I’ve not recounted them here because, well, they scared me a bit, but I definitely left more of a believer.
Is it because Halloween is upon us and it’s the season of spirits? Or, are the spirits around us all of the time and only some of us get to experience them?
Happy Halloween, South Shore. Boo.
Do You Have Unexplained Happenings? Do You Need to Reach Apollo Paranormal?
Apollo Paranormal is not for profit. Lisa and Cliff conduct investigations at no charge. If you’ve experienced something unexplained they invite you to reach out to them.