Is Oneonta’s Southside Mall Cinemas Haunted by a ‘Thanksgiving Ghost’?
THE TALE OF THE SOUTHSIDE MALL CINEMAS "THANKSGIVING GHOST"
In the early 2000s, when I was going to college at SUNY Oneonta, I worked part time at the Southside Mall Cinemas. It was a great job that I remember fondly. It wasn't a huge "chain" theater, so it was a little more laid back, and they actually let me learn the projectors. Before movies were screened digitally, they were put together from several reels of 35mm film, and I knew how to do all that stuff. Those were good ol' days.
But I digress.
Many longtime employees of the Southside Mall Cinemas claim that it's haunted by a rather peculiar entity... which staff refers to as "The Thanksgiving Ghost."
Movie theaters are kinda spooky when you're alone. Especially upstairs in the projection booth. It was very dark, and the only thing you could hear was the loud whirring of machines. Some employees claim to have felt a sudden rush of cold, followed by what could only be described as "the smell of Thanksgiving dinner."
Nathan Zakala has been the manager at Oneonta's Southside Mall Cinemas for over 20 years. He was one of the better bosses I've ever had. Very agreeable, and very sane. Not the kind of guy you'd expect to espouse craziness about the supernatural.
When I reached out to Nathan recently to ask about the Thanksgiving Ghost, this is what he told me:
We used to have the smell of Thanksgiving (complete dinner; pies, turkey, bread, etc.) in the hallway by theater 2. This was experienced 4 or 5 times, years apart... Usually by 2 or more people at the same time. The last time it happened to me, I did some investigating... I went on the roof to see if it was coming in through the HVAC systems and found nothing.
It should be noted that the Cinemas is nowhere near an eatery in the mall that would cook such food. At one point there was a pizza joint across the way, but that came and went, and the Thanksgiving smells continued.
"THE MAN WITH THE HAT"
But it goes beyond smells. On a few occasions, someone... or something... was seen.
Two different employees had a similar experience in the projection booth. One saw a man standing by screen 1. The man walked forward, out of view, towards the booth window. When the employee walked over, the man was gone. The second employee had the exact same experience but was standing by screen 1 and the man was by screen 7. The description was also the same. Shadowy with a round hat. One said they could see he had suspenders. Years later, a security guard was talking about ghosts. He said that there was a guard years ago who quit after a week... after the mall was closed, he came out of the office and saw a man standing in front of the theater looking at our sign. He called down to him that the mall was closed. The man walked forward towards the theater gates and out of view. When the guard came around the man was gone. He said that the guy had a round hat. As far as I know no one had ever mentioned this detail to mall security... The guard quit and said he couldn’t stay here at night.
What could this shadowy man in the hat possibly want with the movies? Can ghosts really be cinephiles? And why would he smell -- rather pleasantly -- of Thanksgiving dinner?
The Thanksgiving Ghost... maybe he's real, or maybe it's much ado about stuffing.