Saint Petersburg – February 2022

Coliseum Ballroom
Coliseum Ballroom -Dance Floor

For nearly 20 years, I have heard rumors that the Coliseum is haunted.  We were finally allowed to come in and check. 

Information is sketchy on the haunting.  Even the main websites list it as an unknown haunting.  (Like this).

I documented the information I found for years on the St. Pete Paranormal site (information copy/pasted below, gathered by Brandy Stark).

I first heard about the haunted Coliseum by word of mouth. The first substantial story about the venue showed up at an exhibit on Haunted St. Petersburg.

I found this story listed at the Downtown newsletter site:
A COLISEUM HAUNTING? Along the 4th Avenue N. corridor into downtown St. Petersburg stands the Coliseum – a unique architectural icon from the city’s past. Known as “The Palace of Pleasure,” it debuted in 1924 as the country’s largest dance hall and served as the city’s premier entertainment venue for decades. Rex McDonald, a young banjo player in the Coliseum’s house orchestra, began producing shows there in the 1930s. He booked many famous ’30s and ’40s entertainers, bringing the likes of Glenn Miller, Count Bassie, Dizzie Gillepsie, Louie Armstrong, Rudy Valle, Guy Lombardo, Duke Ellington and others to St. Petersburg. Rex devoted most of his life to the Coliseum, and, in a sense, it rewarded him with his life-long partner. Thelma (known as “Boo”), a frequent visitor to the Coliseum’s dance floor, became his wife in 1932. They ran the Coliseum until Rex passed away in 1984. Shortly after Rex’s death, the first reports of phantom dancers at the Coliseum began to surface: the sound of shuffling feet moving in rhythm emanating from the old darkened dance floor. Staff members from the 1980s wondered if perhaps Rex had left behind more than just an entertainment legacy. Could those disembodied footsteps belong to the long ago dancers that once twirled and whirled on the Coliseum’s dance floor, swinging to the music of Rex McDonald-the Banjo Man?


Here is a bit about the exhibit from the archives:

When I attended “Cool Art” I only brought my IR camera. None of the artists were too chatty about the ghost stories in there. I felt nothing unusual, though the building is georgous. Nothing strange showed up in the IR photography. (7-17-10)

Update: 1/8/2022:

I went to St. Pete Comic Con to be a speaker (local ghosts, of course) and to write an article. I mentioned the alleged haunting of the location. No one had heard much about the ghosts there. I did ask one person who was a sensitive. She said that on prior trips she had “felt something” but had never focused on it. However, she mentioned that the place was far too busy and crowded for her to feel anything beyond that. 

I had been in the building several times with primitive paranormal investigation equipment (compass, primarily) and had no luck, but there were always events going on.  

This was the first time that I was able to go up into the balcony section of the building, however, which gave me a new lok at the location.

The SPIRITS of St. Petersburg investigated the Coliseum as a team during a lovely day in February 2022.  

We did not get a lot of activity.  Sensitives had the following:
A woman in the laundry area 
A feeling of someone in the dressing rooms
A spirit portal response in the front of the building with the history section. 
A spirit portal response in the laundry room.
High EMF in the box office (due to equipment stored there).  

As the building provides its own history, here are some of the images:

  • 1935 Coliseum Ticket
    1935 Their Pre-Halloween Tacky Dance

In the history section, we got a response from the spirit box of “I hate you”. 1940s.

We had only one other strong response which was during a spirit box portal session in the laundry area.  How many are here?  Two.

Interviews with the staff revealed that they have not noticed any activity.  

Research did show that there was a fatal shooting at the Coliseum in 2004.  A gem show was being hosted at the venue and security shot a theif during an attempted break in.  

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