MELBOURNE, Fla. - Oh, the things that have gone on among the Christmas trees and the home décor. Hear the stories long enough and you might believe the current home of the Petite Boutiques, formerly the Christmas Cottage, in downtown Melbourne, is haunted.
"Strange things have happened here," Angela LoPresti, whose family has owned the building since 1985, told Local 6 News partner Florida Today. Since that time the place has been investigated for paranormal activity about a half dozen times.
Items move. Voices are heard. Some parts of the building simply feel ... different.
"Oh, we're very familiar with the Christmas Cottage," says Scott Dwyer of Florida Unknown, which investigates claims of paranormal activity. "Something definitely is going on there."
Various customers and others have felt the presence of the departed in various ways and LoPresti has investigated personally.
"One woman, Sabrina, says she can sense the presence of the dead," she says. "She told us the number 25 kept popping into her head ... and she also was seeing a lot of people of diverse ages and backgrounds, all of whom had died at some point. I was so curious. Well, knowing that this building had once housed Brownlie-Maxwell Funeral Home, I walked up (to Brownlie-Maxwell's current location) to see if I could find a connection. So I walked in ... and the woman at the desk had in her hands at that minute a manifest of an airplane flight from Oct. 11, 1925, on which a number of people were killed. ‘We handled the emergency,' she told me. ‘The victims were brought to the funeral home, which was then located in our building'."
LoPresti says the ghosts always are "subtle and mischievous," such as when they rearrange a Christmas tree.
"Every morning, I would come in and find a bird on one of our trees that was upside down, and I would have to rearrange it," she says. "I would wonder why no one would fix the bird on the tree. It happened all the time. Then one night, I closed and knew the bird was on the tree right side up. But when I got there the next morning, it was upside down again. Coincidence?"
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