EAST BRUNSWICK Complete with ghost hunters, psychics and crafters, ParaX hosted its 9th annual “Behind The Veil” paranormal/psychic expo just in time for Halloween.
“Originally my dad, Richard Kimmel, and I founded ParaX. More recently I have had help from two of my colleagues in the paranormal field, Katharine Clark and Lauren Curtis. ParaX was created to bring the public and the paranormal together for one day,” co-founder Karen Timper said.
With more than 25 vendors present, attendees were able to purchase books on paranormal occasions, crystal jewelry and Halloween themed merchandise on Sept. 30 at the East Brunswick Elks Lodge on Oakmont Avenue.
“We have been holding the expo at the Elks since its inception nine years ago, with proceeds in part benefiting the Elks’ endeavors such as the Drug Awareness Peer Mentorship Committee in past years as well as the Youth Scholarship Committee,” Timper said.
Artist Brittany Pochick, 17, was selling a variety of gothic-themed artwork and merchandise.
“I met Karen at another event and she saw my work and she fell in love with it and she wanted me to share it here,” Brittany said. “Ever since I was a kid I struggled a lot with bullying and anxiety and depression, so art became my therapy. … I started off when I was seven years old, I am 17 now and I got my LLC when I was 12; ever since then it’s kind of like my release.”
For people who are interested in creating their own artwork, Brittany said, “Just keep going and keep trying. I started off just coloring wooden boxes and it just went off from there. I have invested a lot of time [and] it costs a lot of money but when you fall in love with something you want to try and find a way to keep it going.”
A township resident herself, Timper said that ever since she was a young she had heard about the Elks Lodge being reportedly haunted.
“We have a great relationship with the Elks and have investigated it with my paranormal group New Jersey Ghost Organization on a few occasions over the years. Some of its features are right out of a ‘Nancy Drew’ mystery book – abookcase that turns and takes you from one room into the next, a secret staircase and tunnels below the building,” Timper said. “The scenery is both breathtaking [because] of the Farrington Lake, as well as creepy because of its location. It also includes a caretakers house as well. The Elks Lodge just celebrated its 50 years. We’ve also had the pleasure of some paranormal occurrences and evidence from the lodge.”
Free lectures took place throughout the expo, where residents learned about various topics that included: Pagan Autumnal Traditions by Katherine Clark; Introduction to Crystal Singing Bowls by Chuck Lehman; Reiki 101 by Bob Oberholtzer; Ghost, Demons and Weirder by Demonologist Kevin Meares; Perceptions and Deceptions by Justin Bamforth; and The C2D1 Haunting by Chris DiCesare.
Oberholtzer is a reiki master who has been involved in healthcare since 1968. He is also Vietnam veteran who served in the U.S. Navy. Oberholtzer said he then became a lab technician, then a physician’s assistant, until he eventually decided to go to physical therapy school.
“I was attending a lecture in 1999. Long story short, I was interested in this new manual technique for pain management. I did not know anything about the internal depths of reiki [which] would be revealed to me in time,” he said.
According to Oberholtzer, reiki was first discovered in Japan and today has been introduced in hospitals and clinics, and there are lectures on reiki all over the country.
“I believe in education being a physical therapist and I continue to practice that field and that craft. … My good friend Kat who is a former patient of mine, we became friends and she is involved in the show. I taught her reiki through the years. She has taught me [about] crystals and things through the years and she asked me if I would be willing to come and give a lecture,” Oberholtzer said.
The expo also had a traveling Museum of Haunted Artifacts that showcased various haunted items from World War II and recent years. The traveling museum was started by Timper and her father.
“I am the one that collects the haunted artifacts,” Kimmel said. “I have been doing that since I was a child during the World War II era, when soldiers would come back and they would give kids things. … I really got interested in this, in the actual artifacts themselves, after we started the group and that was quite a few years ago.”
Over the years, Kimmel said that he kept on getting a feeling about certain artifacts that he owned, so by using a pendulum he was able to determine if there was paranormal energy attached to certain artifacts.
“When I get an artifact I will engage one of our psychics to do an evaluation on it. I test these psychics ahead of time by not telling them anything about the artifact and they tell me things I already know and the things I didn’t know about it and I research those [which] proves to be 95 percent accurate on the things I didn’t know,” Kimmel said.
Timper and Kimmel have also written several books that include “World War II Ghosts: Artifacts Can Talk,” “Ghosts of Central New Jersey” and “Folklore of the New Jersey Shore,” according to Timper.