In the popular imagination, Orange County tends to conjure images of sunny suburbs and feuding housewives, not haunted mansions and shadowy valleys. But as paranormal investigator and director of OC Ghosts and Legends, Orange County resident Cris August has had more than a few paranormal experiences in the area. OC Ghosts and Legends has been leading tours, investigations and events since 2011, exposing the history and darker side of the county.
August took some time from his investigations work to share with us about his organization, Orange County history and the paranormal.
Halloween Every Night: Tell us the history of OC Ghosts and Legends.
Cris August: OC Ghosts and Legends was founded simply with a passion for the paranormal and the desire to help others. We formed in 2011 as just two guys with individual knowledge and experience wanting to take it to the next level by conducting independent investigations into some of Orange County’s most haunted locations. Over time, we felt confident in responding to calls from private residences who claim to have supernatural activity within their homes. These people really didn’t know where else to turn and how to get help.
We take tremendous pride in the fact that people entrusted us to be in their homes and open up to us about these disturbances. While our client privacy is of the highest importance, it humbles us to know that we were at least able to arm these folks with some knowledge and confidence to take back their space. It’s a truly rewarding feeling that stands true with everything we do today.
HEN: How does Orange County compare to other older parts of the country in terms of ghost hunting?
CA: Most people don’t have much insight into the history of Orange County. We can thank shows like The Real Housewives [of Orange County] and MTV reality shows such as Laguna Beach for painting a picture of Orange County as nothing but cookie-cutter homes and surf cities. However, Orange County is rich in history, particularly the site of our signature San Juan Capistrano ghost tour along California’s oldest occupied neighborhood dating back to the 1700s. Our other signature location Black Star Canyon is home to Orange County’s most notorious ghost stories, including its coal mining operation in the mid-1800s and its Native American history.
I often say that something doesn’t have to be “old” to be haunted. We think that Orange County can most definitely stand on its own in comparison to its counterparts throughout the country.
HEN: What are some particularly active areas?
CA: People often ask us what the most haunted place is based upon our investigations. This is always a tough question to answer because spiritual and paranormal activity manifests in so many forms. Experiencing any of them may impact one person more or less than the next. Everyone experiences things differently. San Juan Capistrano has presented us with some of our most amazing audio and EVP (electronic voice phenomena) evidence whereas Black Star Canyon is a grab bag of audio, visual and other bizarre circumstances. They are both crazy active, just in different ways.
Any location or venue we present to the public via tours, events or presentations, we stand behind it having significant paranormal activity.
Some of our other locations such as the Bracken Fern Manor and Tudor House, we (and our guests) have experienced physical and emotional encounters that quite literally were life-altering for some.
HEN: What is your background and how did you get into this?
CA: My background in this field stemmed from a lifetime of unfounded fear and curiosity of anything unknown or unexplainable. I probably watched too much Unsolved Mysteries and was traumatized by movies such as Fire in the Sky, frankly.
Ironically, I never had any direct experiences with anything supernatural in nature growing up. That is until my early 20s when I began experiencing strange sightings, shadow people, disembodied voices and cups moving on their own. These events always took place in groups of three on and off for a couple years. It was entirely foreign to me. That was the catalyst for researching and visiting various haunted hot spots in California. The rest is history.
Today, I conduct field investigations with my team and am actively studying in the field of metaphysical science.
HEN: Are there any risks in the work you do?
CA: Being a skeptic of sorts I generally give an open-ended answer to that question. However, there are risks to everything. Regardless of one’s belief system, you should always approach anomalous research and investigations with great respect and care. We will always be under the assumption that whoever or whatever we are communicating with was once a human being and we treat them as we would wish to be treated. Intent is everything.
HEN: Any do’s and don’ts?
CA: Be kind and respectful. This especially applies to your environment. When people invite us into their place of business or their home, we leave everything exactly the way we found it, as if we were never there. Our reputation of being trusted and professional is critical.
Do not break and enter or trespass. Sadly, too many curious people do this and it leaves a bad taste in the mouth of the property owner for any potential investigations to be conducted there in the future. Not to mention that it’s illegal.
Be safe and don’t be inebriated during an investigation. You need to be focused and in a clear head space.