February is the month for love, but let’s be honest, dating can be exhausting and sometimes awkward. It can be difficult getting to know someone, especially when they’re wearing their “dating mask.” You can’t get to know someone by sitting in a movie theater, and sometimes going out to eat isn’t an option because of the cost, so what do we do? Perhaps go on a walk, talk, and get to know each other.
One sure way to peer through one’s dating façade is seeing how they react to fear. Will she jump into your arms at the first hint of a ghostly presence? Will he bolt and leave you to fend for yourself in the event of a monstrous encounter?
These are important factors to consider when choosing a mate. It’s on the top of my list! Fear is the tell-all of any person’s mettle. This is the reason I’m supplying you with a few spooky and reasonably safe (at least considering the human element) “spooky dating ideas.”
Utah County has more than a few fun little spots for a romantic stroll where you have the chance of running into a gnome, elf or spook. The J. Rulon Gammon Vineyard Heritage Park, 70 S Holdaway Rd, Orem, is one of the first parks I ever took my sweetheart to for a midnight jaunt. The park is small and quaint. During the fall, it borders a large pumpkin patch on its west side. It is said that if you walk over to this pumpkin patch area anytime of the year after midnight and whistle, something will whistle back at you.
There have also been stories of people encountering thin black and crooked humanoids in the coniferous trees near the path that goes past the west side of the park. Some time ago I interviewed a couple who said that one night in 2012, around 11pm, they saw “a headless bag lady,” (their words) admiring her head as it sat in her lap. She was sitting under the southwest pavilion. I consider this to be a safe neighborhood for a walk and have taken many after midnight strolls in this area.
Provo’s Grandview Park, 1460 N 1050 W, is one of my favorite parks to visit after midnight. It borders “ The Provo Vortex,” an area from where I’ve been collecting supernatural stories for more than fifteen years. Grandview Park sits next to an old haunted elementary school which is now the Grandview Technology Center.
It’s rumored that the ghost of a pervy custodian haunts the girls’ restroom here and if you look into the halls at night you can sometimes see strange things lurking about the halls. If you’re lucky, you might also run into the gnomes that are said to frolic on the playground equipment here. I encourage everyone to visit this park at night. The later the better. Make a special trip to this park during December and pay special attention to the coniferous trees on the far west side of the park. That’s all I’m gonna say.
At Sugar House Park, 1330 2100 S, Salt Lake City, I have collected stories and heard rumors of people coming face to face with two-foot-tall gnomes near Parley’s Creek. So, in June of 2019, my sweetheart Tara and I decided to go for a little walk around the area. We visited the park at about three o’clock in the afternoon. We were next to the creek when we saw and heard some rustling in the bushes no more than twelve feet away from us. I cannot say for certain what Tara and I saw, but it was two feet tall, gray in color and bipedal. It began playing peek-a-boo with us from behind a tree. I whipped out my phone and started taking photos, but it disappeared when we approached the area.
We rushed home and started looking at the photos on my phone and were able to get a photo of the “whatever-it-was” peering from behind a tree. This is a rare occurrence of the researcher being in the right place at the right time. I want to make it clear I have no idea what we saw, but we did see something out of the ordinary and in broad daylight. Combine that with the fact that there are stories of gnomes in this area, and you can’t help but say hmmm …
Danny B. Stewart is a local folklorist and tradition bearer who collects and studies stories of Utah’s uncanny side.
Subscribe to Utah Stories weekly newsletter and get our stories directly to your inbox