The Pink Lady: A playful spirit roams The Omni Grove Park Inn

By Tiffanie Boone

Advertising Staff

tboone1@unca.edu 

Her frail body goes cold on the floor of the Palm Court, her glazed-over eyes stare up at the skylight above. The dames and gentleman exchange glances and buzz around the woman wondering how exactly she fell to her demise.

No one claims to know her and no one seems to care. The corpse still clad in her evening gown becomes hastily rolled up in the rug beneath her and the body hauled off to a final and unknown resting place.

“We don’t know who she was here visiting. She never signed in. No one claimed to know her. There wasn’t a lot of screaming or anything,” said Tracey Johnston-Crum, director of public relations and community outreach for the Grove Park Inn.

The evening goes on with music and libations, the lady dressed in pink forgotten.

Little did the other guests know the most important person in the room that night would be the one they handled with such disregard. The story of that fateful night and the Pink Lady would haunt the Grove Park Inn for more than 100 years.

Sometime in the ‘20s, one of the most glamorous eras for the Grove Park Inn, the Pink Lady made her stay at the resort. With consumerism in style and the automobile making travel easier than ever before, people came to the inn from near and far. The rich, famous and even infamous checked in to have a rip-roaring time and bathed in decadence. Many couples retreated to the inn for romance and privacy. Possibly in hopes of a romantic getaway herself, the Pink Lady received a more permanent stay.

“Everyone has lots of ideas and theories about her,” Johnston-Crum said.

Some said she came to the inn with a married lover who called off the affair, causing her to jump out of heartache, or in a more grim manner, pushed by her lover over the balcony.

Other believers claim her to be a high society woman who slipped and fell. Whatever the case, the young lady, fond of room 545 in the main inn, continues to make her presence known throughout the hallways, guest rooms, lobby and employee areas of the original 104-year-old building.

“It was F. Scott Fitzgerald weekend which we do in September around his birthday, which is Sept. 24,” Johnston-Crum said.

The inn sets up a couple of rooms to look the way it would have when Fitzgerald stayed there in 1935 and 1936.

“I was picking stuff up out of the room and taking down the display. As I backed out, someone put their hand on my lower back and helped walk me out of the room,” Johnston-Crum said. “I turned around to say ‘Thank you’ assuming it was the elevator operator since the doors are right there.”

Expecting to see the smiling familiar face of the elevator operator, Johnston-Crum said she turned around to find herself alone, her words bouncing off the old stone walls.

“It wasn’t like a brush or a pressure. It was somebody’s hand on my back,” said Johnston-Crum.

Johnston-Crum has worked at the inn for nine years and dealt with a few encounters over her time there. Yet another unnerving encounter happened several years ago while rehearsing at Elaine’s Dueling Piano Bar for the children’s holiday chorus.

“I would always rehearse in Elaine’s. It’s always cold down there. You can’t ever get the temperature right, so I called engineering,” Johnston-Crum said.

While Johnston-Crum waited for engineering, she decided to go to the restroom.

“It was back when we had these weighted centerpieces on the toilet paper roll and it would break off after four squares,” Johnston-Crum said.

As she reached for the toilet paper, it began to roll, faster and faster.

“I said out loud, ‘Should I go?’ It stopped. I pulled up my pants and left the bathroom really fast. I was scared and I was out of there,” Johnston-Crum said.

In a frazzled panic, buttoning her pants as she ran, Johnston-Crum hurried back to tell her fellow co-workers about her encounter with an invisible force.

“I go tell everyone and they are all, ‘Whatever, Tracey’ So we go back to the bathroom and the entire toilet paper roll had rolled out onto the floor,” Johnston-Crum said. “Again, it’s weighted so there’s no way that it would have just continued to turn of its own momentum.”

Late one night while taking the dreary and cryptic boiler room route to the exit, Curt Davis, the evening resort manager for the inn, said he experienced a presence unlike anything he ever encountered in his life.

“As I walked through the boiler room door, I felt a tingle that started at the top of my head and began to go down my whole body, even to my feet,” Davis said. “It felt as if every hair on my body was standing on end.”

Davis stopped to peer around in the dismal, shadowy hall, only to see nothing. Remembering his earlier conversation that evening with some inquisitive guests about the Pink Lady, he decided to pick up his pace.

He made it to the stairs when his legs began to lose function. He could barely hit each step, holding onto the wooden railing as he made his descent. Using all his might he reached the glass exit doors. With a gulp of fresh air, the weakness immediately evaporated.

“I never saw anything, but there was a presence around me until I left the building,” Davis said.

Joshua Kersey, human resources training manager, spends his time in a converted office on the lower level of the main inn. The bathrooms across the hall from Kersey’s workspace scorch with heat no matter what time of year. When you step inside the hot old shower rooms an unidentified clanging, like chains striking a metal pipe, can be heard continuously.

On many occasions, Kersey said he locks doors and closes cabinets only to find them unlocked and open when he returns. The four-year employee often finds himself questioning if his office has a mischievous visitor.

“I was sitting in my office one day with a co-worker and we were sitting on the same side of the room and on the other side of the office far, far away from where either one of us sits stands a tall lamp,” Kersey said. “The lamp started clicking like it was trying to turn on. We just sat there and stared at each other for a bit while it kept going and then suddenly it stopped. We were like, ‘I think she’s gone.’”

The Pink Lady, a friendly and playful spirit spends time these days messing with light switches, electronics and playing with people’s children, once graced the halls of the Grove Park Inn in her flowing rosy ball gown looking for love or maybe an escape.

Little did she know her spirit would remain forever restless lurking between the impenetrable walls of the famous inn for eternity.

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