Another weird year is nearly in the books.
As 2017 winds down, Weird Wicked Weird checks in with stories over the past 12 months for the latest news, twists and developments.
One slippery snake. Chatty ghosts in the Old Port. And new photographic proof of Bigfoot in Maine? You decide.
Wessie: The myth, the legend, the display
After a harrowing few months last year spent wondering if there was actually an anaconda with a head the size of a soccer ball slinking around Riverside Park in Westbrook, the snake dubbed “Wessie” lives on. In a ssssssense.
Westbrook police donated a 12-foot snakeskin to the International Cryptozoology Museum, which formally installed a Wessie exhibit in a 14-foot case in August.
DNA testing by a University of Texas herpetologist determined it was an authentic anaconda skin from a female snake with Peruvian ancestors, according to museum Director Loren Coleman.
The skin was “found around a tree as a snake would shed it,” he said.
He believes the 2016 sightings were credible, and, with none reported this year, that the snake probably died last winter.
The artifact joins other Maine cryptid evidence at the museum, such as the preserved foot of the Turner Beast. Intrigued? The museum is open six days a week, or check it out during the third annual International Cryptozoology Conference planned for Labor Day weekend 2018 in Portland.
This year’s conference featured guests such as Joseph Zarzynski, who started his research career looking for lake monster Champ in Lake Champlain.
Not now, Ms. Ghost
For 11 years, actor/opera singer/entrepreneur Gordon Tweedie has led “Wicked Walking Tours” around the Old Port, taking visitors up and down Portland streets with tales of hauntings, sightings and eerie history.
Last summer, one tour had an uninvited plus-two.
“This medium came on the tour one night and she said she was approached by two entities during the tour,” Tweedie said. “One was the woman at the waterfront, Lula Wormell, and the other she said was a man in an alley. She didn’t want to talk to them; she wanted to be on the tour, so she just told them she didn’t want to interact.”
Tweedie gave the last tours of the season in November, then left for New Orleans, where he’s wintered for the past four years. He’ll be back in May for Season 12.
Oooh ooooh ooooh
The fifth season of the web series “Haunt ME,” which follows four Maine twenty-somethings, including Auburn’s Katie Webb, has almost wrapped filming and goes beyond the ghost in 2018.
It’ll start airing in May with at least eight episodes, Ty Gowen, the team’s analyst, said this week.
“Some of our greatest upcoming encounters will teach viewers about cursed and haunted objects, things that dwell in our forests and will even take viewers on a trip beyond our borders to a famous haunted house in New York,” he said.
Expect guest appearances from Greg and Dana Newkirk from the Traveling Museum of the Paranormal & Occult, and expect the unexpected, according to Gowen.
“We weren’t quite ready for our search for ghosts in an old mining cemetery to turn into an actual pursuit of Bigfoot,” he said. “There was more screaming than usual.”
‘I BELIEVE YOU’
Back in May, WWW featured Daniel Green’s book of 155 historical Bigfoot sightings in Maine.
Well, throw a few more on the pile.
The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, the group behind the Animal Planet TV show “Finding Bigfoot,” last month posted online a report in Oxford County from July 2016.
A husband and wife were out for a walk in the woods looking for moose antlers by Lake Aziscohos, near Wilsons Mills, when they spied a five-toed footprint about 20 to 22 inches long and 8 to 10 inches wide in a ditch.
He dropped his box of Altoids on the ground for scale and shot a pic.
“I’ve been an avid watcher of ‘Finding Bigfoot’ and do wood knocks regularly,” the man wrote in his sighting report. “(My wife) looked at me and said, ‘NOW I BELIEVE YOU.'”
There was also a broken branch, 8 feet up a nearby tree. (That’s believed to be a Bigfoot calling card among those who look for him.)
Jeff Sheppard, a Massachusetts teacher who covers Maine as a BFRO field investigator, said when he met with them, he found the couple sincere and not out to hoax him. That’s the same general impression he’s gotten of the dozen-plus cases he’s investigated since August 2015.
BFRO posted another of his cases online last month, this one out of Waldo County. It involved a trail cam picture captured on a hunting property in Burnham in November 2015 and discovered months later.
“That one was really, really cool,” Sheppard said.
The trail cam was up for several days and captured birds, small animals and one single picture of a gray/black something among the greenery in the center of the screen.
“That looks like a simian face,” Sheppard said. “Why would there be an ape in the woods in Burnham, Maine?”
After walking the area with the college student who set up the trail cam and his father, Sheppard guessed it was roughly his size, 5 feet, 5 inches, but “more robust,” and, potentially, a juvenile Bigfoot.
“They told me some other odd stories of things that have happened on the property,” Sheppard said. Hearing their names called, ghost stories, a quarry that people won’t go near.
“I go out and look and try to report and let people decide on their own,” he said.
Weird Wicked Weird is a monthly feature on the strange, unexplained and intriguing in Maine. Send ideas and photos to email@example.com.
A zoomed-in image of a trail cam photo of a gray/black something seen in the Burnham, Maine, woods in November 2015. A Massachusetts researcher with the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization said he believes it could show a juvenile Sasquatch. (Photo courtesy Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization)
A trail cam photo of something seen in the Burnham, Maine, woods in November 2015. A Massachusetts researcher with the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization said he believes it could show a juvenile Sasquatch. (Photo courtesy Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization)
A photo of a 20- to 22-inch-long track a couple says they found walking in the woods in Oxford County while looking for moose antlers. They believed it might be a Bigfoot print and sent in a report to the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization. An investigator there said he didn’t feel like the couple was trying to hoax him. (Photo courtesy Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization)