Gina Lanier is a well-known ghost hunter
and investigator of the paranormal. "I
have investigated numerous very haunted
houses, cemeteries, churches, hotels, Federal
Prisons, Amusment Parks and other haunted
cases across this Nation, including furniture
and personal possessions," she says.
Gina also maintains that even though she
has spent years pursuing her unusual avocation,
not to mention an invested small fortune
in ghost detection equipment, she is still
skeptical? on the subject of ghosts.
Recently, we caught up with Gina as she
was about to tackle the investigation of
the "Carnival Krewe den" of a
Haunted Mardi Gras Parade. For those who
don't know New Orleans or much about Mardi
Gras, the "den" is the warehouse
or Large building where the parade floats
are kept over the months between parading
at New Orleans Mardi Gras. The buildings
are usually Large warehouse, as most of
a Mardi Gras Krewe's budget goes into planning
and paying for the following year's Mardi
Gras extravaganza, and there's generally
a lot of "haunted history" in
the old den walls.
The parade Krewe housed in this purportedly
haunted building is an old line Mardi Gras
Krewe with more than 60 years of parading
history behind it. The den is located just
blocks from the Mississippi River and not
far from famous St. Charles Avenue, the
great thoroughfare where most of the big
name Mardi Gras Krewe parades march each
An investigation into the history of this
building's recent history has turned up
nothing spectacular, in other words, no
apparent recent cause or explanation for
the manifestations and activity that have
been reported from this location. So ruling
out that the actual Mardi Gras Parade is
haunted. Un- like The Krewe Of Mid City
which is said to be the most haunted parade
at Mardi Gras. It is said to attract Mardi
Gras Parade goers and Ghost to it's magnificent
multi-colored Foil covered floats. Ghost
Photos of this spectacular Best New Orleans
Day Parade have been documented for 70 years.
But there is a tragic history associated
with the location of this particular Haunted
Mardi Gras Den as well, and Lanier speculates
that the occurrences in the den may be a
residual effect of these events that happened
several generations ago that might still
linger and have imprinted themselves on
This building, a familiar sight to native
New Orleanians, once served as a police
headquarters building and jail serving the
area of Uptown New Orleans known as the
Irish Channel. It is reported that on March
17-18, 1891, near this very location, over
100 Italian American immigrant workers were
arrested during a riot over pay and work
conditions on nearby urban projects. For
their protection, the Italian immigrants
were held in what is now the Mardi Gras
den, the police at the time thinking that
they would be more manageable and less troublesome
if kept in the Irish district as opposed
to the Italian district nearer the French
If you have any information
or would like to contribute, your haunted
Mardi Gras Story or Mardi Gras Ghost Photos
please contact her through our web site.
But because the workers' gripes had suspended
a major work project, it affected other
immigrant workers, the Irish in particular,
who, when they heard the culprits were being
held in their own backyard, began to assemble
angrily outside the police station. It little
helped that most of the Irishmen had been
imbibing heavily in celebration of St. Patrick's
Day just hours before. The assemblage turned
into a full-scale riot with the Irish immigrants
storming the police station with guns and
The mob brutally murdered most of the police
in the building as they ferreted out the
cells holding the Italian miscreants. A
wild and brutal melee then broke out between
the Irish and the Italians with several
dead on both sides.
Police from other districts were summoned
into the Irish Channel to quell the rioting
and the survivors, both Italian and Irish,
were hauled away to be held in the more-secure
Jackson Barracks under the watchful eyes
of the US Army. But the story is told that
there weren't many left alive to move and
the police station in the Irish Channel
soon became an impromptu hospital and morgue
as physicians converged on the building,
responding to pleas to help the dying officers
and the hapless others who had fallen in
the fray. It was one of the worst racial
riots the city of New Orleans had ever witnessed.
One strange note on a survivor, Carlo Matranga
who was held there is one of the sole people
who manages to survive the incident and
becomes "The recognized head of New
Orleans underworld" at the time.
The police station and its attached jail
cells were summarily closed and remained
abandoned for several generations until
a fledgling Mardi Gras Krewe needed a place
to meet and build its floats. The interior
of the building was gutted to provide building
space, but in the anterior and rear there
are still walls of metal bars, the only
remnant of the jail cells.
Ghost hunter Gina Lanier proceeds in her
investigation with this tragic event as
a likely scenario to cause the hauntings.
There have been reports of cold spots, unexplainable
noises, lights that turn on and off by themselves,
a haunted bathroom, and a shadowy form that
materializes near the old cell area.
Most of the activity is noticed during
the building season ? from October through
February or March depending on the date
of Mardi Gras (a moveable celebration based
upon the Catholic calendar?s dates for Lent
and Easter). These are the months when people
are working in the den most frequently.
Sometimes crews or individual designers
can be found working 24-hour shifts when
the push to get the parade rolling is really
Lanier initiates her investigation with
interviews of those employees and others
who have had personal haunting experiences
in the old den. Several were at first reluctant
to come forward.
"There's a strong wariness about dealing
with ghost hunters in many people,"
Lanier says offhandedly. "It's kind
of the fear of being taken in by the "PT
Barnum" syndrome, you know, "a
sucker born every minute." Well, nobody
wants to be that sucker."
Lanier always gives the most reluctant
eyewitnesses a lot of time to get comfortable
and to respond at their own pace. She likes
to meet individually and usually at the
location of the haunting, which can serve
as a sort of huge "visual aid"
to the shy and a stage to the not so mum.
"I always try to put people at ease,"
Lanier went on. "It's not easy for
everyone. Many people have been downright
terrified by their encounters; for others,
the problem has persisted so long that all
they want is for someone to listen to them
who won't write them off as crazy."
Lanier's biggest monitor of the possible
presence of ghostly anomalies in any location
is her own intuition. Because of this, she
often prefers to investigate haunted sights
completely alone, or with a single assistant
to help out. This method, she says, gives
her the best perception from which to proceed.
"Honestly, I don't care how many reports
I get about a place, person or object,"
she says, "if I don't feel it, it just
In the case of this haunted location, Gina
definitely "feels it." Others
have felt it, too.
Several Artisit and workers report the
presence of cold spots that move around
the great Mardi Gras Parade warehouse floor.
Most are encountered in the narrow walkways
formed by the floats when they are placed
side by side in the building. There are
also cold spots reported on the floats as
An angry "presence" is reported
to manifest itself near the side door of
the den, (actually the only other exit)
adjacent to the old cell area. At one time,
employees were forced to use this door to
enter the building, rather than accessing
the work area through the building's front
door. Several workers report that on separate
occasions they have each experienced an
encounter with a "suffocating feeling,"
a feeling of "being watched" when
trying to exit the door. Most exit in a
A shadowy form is seen moving about the
building and and appear to be very solid
bodies. Seen by more than one employee and
at least one Police officer, ( he was called
to investigate what one of the artist thought
was an intruder) the "solid" aparition's
presence is seen to walk back and forth
between the narrow passages between the
Mardi Gras floats before fading into the
deeper shadows of the rear areas. The Artist
who worked on the parade for the 2004 parade
season who wishes to remain un named states.
" I was in the building Alone working,
I saw a man walk past me I was afraid somone
had broken in and was worried that I would
be killed." Many who have come forward
all state the same felling that they fear
they are going to be killed."
No one likes to use either of the two bathrooms,
or so Gina Lanier has been told. Located
in the front right of the building, in the
area opposite the old cell blocks, there
is an oppressive feeling here as well, as
if someone is watching intently. No one
lingers any longer than necessary.
Lights go on and off seemingly at will.
The panel controlling the fixtures is in
the front of the building. Workers report
standing right beside the lighting panel
and watching the lights flicker on and off
without anyone touching the controls. Radios
being unbluged as well as compressors and
There are also reports of muffled voices
and whispers just out of earshot; doors
that swing open and closed on their own.
And objects like paint buckets or brushes
disappearing as quick as one turns away.
The most frightening event that has been
retold and wittnessed is Mardi Gras beads
and doubloons actually flung at you from
ghostly hands. The Mardi Gras Artist fear
that somone else is in the buliding, and
fear that they are under attack or worse.
But when you inspect the area you find that
you are quite alone.
"These are very typical
hauntings for a building of this age and size,"
says Lanier. "So much activity has taken
place here over the years, including the renovations
to the building, that there is bound to be
some effect, some weakening of the border
between the seen and unseen."
Lanier plans to document the reports and
will use some of the most sophisticated
equipment available to ghost hunters in
her investigation of the den.
GINA LANIER is a New Orleans
native who has studied paranormal
activities, the occult and hauntings
for nearly thirty years. She has
participated in and conducted
large-scale location hauntings
and recently has shifted her focus
to include the investigation and
study of haunted toys such as
dolls, toy furniture, games and
other hallmarks of childhood.
Gina’s paranormal studies
stem from several childhood experiences
with the unknown including witnessing
full body apparitions and clairaudient
encounters with deceased relatives.
These experiences continued beyond
childhood and this is when Gina
resolved to learn as much as possible
about psychic and paranormal phenomenon
to determine what, exactly, was
making contact with her and with
others who claimed to have been
contacted from the Other Side.
Gina owns and operates a construction
and refurbishment company in the
Greater New Orleans area and this
has afforded her exposure to many
allegedly haunted locations and
people over the years; several
of these clients welcomed Gina’s
expertise and insight when it
came to documenting and investigating
their haunted homes and businesses.
Gina Lanier has been selected
by Haunted America Tours as one
of the lead investigators for
its soon-to-be-launched Haunted
Investigations Team (HIT). If
you would like to contact Gina,
please submit your request and
as much information as possible
about your situation to her care
of the Haunted America Tours website.
Be sure to check back to visit
Gina and all the HIT members in
the HIT Forum section, COMING
The story above does not necessarily reflect
the views or opinions of Haunted New Orleans
Tours, its owners or staff. www.hauntedamericatours.com