Special thanks to Nerd Nite St. Pete for a FANTASTIC TIME on April 24 2019! What great people, great atmosphere, and great speakers! We got this note from the coordinators: Emily, Holly and Brandy -- You all were amazing last night! Thank you so much for sharing your nerdy passions with us and St. Pete. It has been fun collaborating with you! We hope this is just the beginning... :) Keep up the great work! --Nerd Nite Bosses
SPIRITS of St. Petersburg
Dr. Brandy Stark started the SPIRITS of St. Petersburg in 1997, when she first started her academic research into the role of the liminal. She took her research to conferences and expanded into studying the lore and legends of Tampa Bay. She was able to utilize her connections at the University of South Florida to do her first official ghost hunt in 1999, which she later wrote up as an article for the USFSP student paper, The Crow’s Nest. From there, she did talks in the local community and met other individuals curious about the supernatural. She officially founded the SPIRITS of St. Petersburg paranormal investigation team in 2000, and it remains an active group today.
Over the years, she has done approximately 400 investigations locally, nationally, and internationally on her own and with her team. Stark’s goal is to involve the community in the research so that others can distinguish natural causes from those of more questionable origin. She has worked to create a reasonable and compassionate view of the supernatural world by integrating ideas and academic discussions of symbolism, cultural interpretation, and respect for others (dead or living).
She is the host for the Paranormal Pets podcast on petliferadio.com, now at over 110 episodes. Stark also authored two books, Supernatural St. Petersburg and Paranormal Pinellas: The Lesser Known Haunts Vol. 1 and II. In addition, she is the guide for the Shadows in the Sunshine walking ghost tour of downtown St. Petersburg. Tours are created upon request and kept to small groups. Stops are at locations that the SPIRITS of St. Petersburg have investigated over the past two decades.
Presently, she continues to explore the history of ghosts in St. Petersburg and surrounding areas. Her research has been utilized in several books including Ghost Stories St. Petersburg Florida (2004), Florida Ghostly Legends and Haunted Folklore (2005), Field of Screams (2010), Eerie Florida (2017), Haunted Florida Love Stories (2020), and she contributed a chapter for Hell Hounds, Spirits and Psychics (2019). She was featured as a local historian on Dead Files Season 10 Episode 13 (“Cursed Pinellas Park”), as a resource and narrator for the “Haslams” episode of Strange Petersburg, and as a guest for Share Your Scare on Amazon Prime. She has spoken to numerous organizations and podcasts including the University of South Florida, the X Zone, Eckerd College, the St. Petersburg Yacht Club and multiple Kuwanis groups.
When not doing research or talks, Stark has a bit of fun with the yearly "second Hallowe'en" event that she created: Valentwe'en. This pseudo-holiday takes place on Feb. 13 and mixes traditions from Halloween and Valentine's Day. She utilizes the concept to host public events, such as book signings, movie screenings, and art shows since 2015, inviting local haunters, such as Dr. Paul Bearer II, to serve as MC.