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Design 2000 employee hunts ghosts in her spare time

Liz Reed is the co-founder of the Paranormal Society of Bradenton and shares that she wants to help people understand that ghosts aren't really that scary.

Liz Reed giving the Bradenton Ghost Walk
Liz Reed giving the Bradenton Ghost Walk
Photo by Petra Rivera
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So you want to talk about ghosts? 

This is one of the first things Liz Reed says when she starts a conversation. 

Reed and her husband, Ron, are the founders of the Paranormal Society of Bradenton. Together, they take people on the Downtown Bradenton Ghost Walk. She also works at Design 2000 Salon on Longboat Key. 

“Right now, you are implanting your energy into your home,” said Liz Reed. “So someday, when you are long gone, you may be seen in that house. That's what I try to explain to them on the walk, the reason why a ghost might be there. They get to learn a little history and just have some fun with the ghosts.”

Paranormal activity started early on in Reed’s life. Originally from Minnesota, her family moved to a new house when she was around 6 years old. Every night, she said that she would see the attic door open and hear someone walking. When she would check, no one was there.

“I could always feel the presence of someone looking at me on my bed and staring at me,” said Reed. “Eventually my older sister moved out, I moved upstairs and the presence started to come out of the attic and sit on the edge of my bed. I could actually see the indentation and I could not move my leg. I was never fully scared, just intrigued.” 

This interest sparked Reed to start research into the paranormal. She discovered that the presence in her childhood home was the first owner of the house who died by suicide because of his wife’s death. This was the first of many paranormal discoveries for Reed. As she grew older, her ghost hunting skills grew along with her. 

When Reed and her husband moved to the area in 1993, their shared paranormal experiences from a young age encouraged them to start ghost hunting in the area. This led to the start of the Paranormal Society of Bradenton 13 years ago. Their ghost hunting process includes studying the history of the area and building connections in the community that could give them leads to new ghosts.  

Connecting with other people with paranormal experiences is one of her favorite parts of ghost hunting and has helped her build close friends in the area. Reed said she loves that most skeptics will at first deny the ghost stories but will usually come back with a potential clue to a haunting nearby later on.

"Everybody's got some story, an experience that they can't explain," said Reed. "That's what paranormal is.”

The Paranormal Society of Bradenton team has grown immensely since it first started. The crew now includes a few paranormal investigators, a researcher, a technology expert and a psychic. The team investigates any areas that it thinks are haunted or someone has referred them to. 

Jerry Ferry giving the Bradenton Ghost Walk
Photo by Petra Rivera

The Bradenton haunted tours cover places such as Hampton Inn, Main Street and the Manatee Memorial Hospital. Reed said her favorite part of the tour is turning over the investigating to the guests and allowing them to use the equipment. Each time is a different experience, and she said that she tries to make them as personal as possible. 

“Everyone gets a meter of their own and you get to ask questions,” said Reed. “When I give tours, I always say, ‘OK, who's the skeptic tonight?’ Because they always seem to be the ones that get the most activity. I think the ghosts are trying to prove to them, ‘Hey, we are here.’”

Reed started working on Longboat Key when she had her own cleaning business. When her back started hurting, she started to work at Tina’s Beauty Salon as Tina Panagiotopoulos’s assistant. When Tina’s closed In 2021, Reed followed Panagiotopoulos to Design 2000 and has worked there ever since. 

Reed also wrote “Haunted Manatee County” and is a staff writer for Bradenton Magazine. She is now working on writing a book focusing on ghost stories in Sarasota County.

Regulars from Design 2000 are always asking Reed for ghost stories or to tell them about the history of the area. Last year on Halloween, she took two groups from the Longboat Island Chapel and said it was a blast to see people she knew from the salon on the tour. 

“I think one woman on the tour was in her 90s, and she walked the entire ghost walk and had a great time doing it. She was asking questions and listening to the history. Both nights, we had fun. So I would love to do the tour with them again.”

Reed said she has been wanting to explore the potential hauntings on Longboat Key for a while now but hasn't had the chance. She mentioned the story of the Ghost Hotel where the Chart House is now. Reed also shared about a potential pirate ghost near Anna Maria Island who blew up a ship with passengers on it. 

“My favorite part about all of this is making people understand that ghosts are not scary,” said Reed. “It's just something that we don't talk about. I want to show them that it's nothing to be scared of, and prove to them that there is something out there. I always tell people we're made of energy, energy never dies. So where does your energy go? That’s all it is.”



Petra Rivera

Petra Rivera is the Longboat community reporter. She holds a bachelor’s degree of journalism with an emphasis on reporting and writing from the University of Missouri. Previously, she was a food and drink writer for Vox magazine as well as a reporter for the Columbia Missourian.

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