Show up in the right place at the right time on a dark October night, and maybe you’ll come face to face with something that’s not so easily explained even though you’re damned sure you’ve seen it.
Good for you!
You’ve met a ‘booger.’
In Florida folk culture, and in some other of parts of the rural south, a booger or haint, is something unexplained that spooks you, mostly in the deepest, darkest part of the night.
Similar to ghosts, they’re even more amorphous.
And, like ghosts, boogers are often associated with gruesome stories of car and train accidents, suicides or murders.
Even though they are tied to very particular places, boogers appear at very irregular intervals.
A booger light, a special kind of booger, is what people in other parts of the country call ghost lights or witch lights.
Greater Jacksonville booger lights
Maybe all our progress has run most of the boogers off, but there is a famous one still in St. Johns county.
Switzerland, Fla., is a little teeny town about 20 minutes south of Jacksonville proper on State Road 13 (the Bartram Trail) with a “Ghost Light Road,” officially named Green Briar road.
On dark nights, you can park your car and watch in your rearview mirror for the kind of single headlight that a motorcycle has.
Just as the light comes up alongside your car, it vanishes.
No other ghostly apparitition.
The urban legend of the light is that a motorcyclist died on the road some time in the 50s or 60s.
The light is his spirit come back to travel the old dirt road again.
Extra-GreaterJax™ booger lights
The cemetery at St. Michael’s Cemetery in Pensacola, Fla. (about 360 miles due west of Jacksonville on I-10), is about the farthest you have to travel outside GreaterJax™ to chase a booger light.
Part of the Basilica of St. Michael the Archangel, St. Michael’s Cemetery was founded when Pensacola was first settled in 1698.
Famous for the famous founding Floridians buried there, St. Michael’s boasts tiny white lights that circle the gravestones.
They’re well documented, as are the voices that visitors have heard inside the cemetery late at night.
The Oviedo Lights
Famous for its booger light and the wild chickens that live in the town square, Oviedo is about 40 miles southeast of Sanford, Fla.
You can try to catch the Oviedo Lights on the road between Chuluota and Snow Hill at the bridge crossing the Econlockhatchee River.
Be forewarned – sometimes the Oviedo Lights chase cars.
Often described as glowing balls of fog rising up from the surrounding swamp and brighter than the headlight of a freight train, the Oviedo Lights look like the headlights of a car.
They come down the road, stop and then hang in mid air.
Depending upon who tells you the story, the legend of the Oviedo Lights began in the 1940s either with a lost Cub Scout or the decapitation of a local teenager.
Frostproof-Behera ghost light
Forty miles of Lake Wales, you come to the towns of Frostproof and Beherha and their ghost light.
If you sit at the four-way stop on Bereha Rd., a ghostly light will float up alongside your car.
You’ll have to park, and you may have to wait just a little while.
Ft. Meade & its booger light – about 40 miles south of Bartow
On Heard Bridge Rd. near old Mt. Pisgah in Ft. Meade in Central Florida about 40 miles south of Bartow, ghost lights have been reported since the 1950s.
Although there are phosphorous mines now, there were none yet when travelers began seeing glowing lights at dusk in the very quiet countryside outside Ft. Meade.
Sometimes the glowing lights even follow you.
The Goat Hill Lights, Arcardia, Fla.
About 20 miles northeast of Port Charlotte on Florida’s west coast, Arcadia has a palmetto stand called Goat Hill.
Fenced off and marked No Trespassing (but perfectly visible from the road), Goat Hill “rises” straight up in the middle of a cow pasture in a line of palmettos.
Reportedly a spooky place after dark, Ghost Hill wishes you wouldn’t sit by yourself while you wait the for the Ghost Hill Lights to put in an appearance.
You know … just in case.
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OFFICIAL BIO: K Truitt is a second-generation, native Floridian born in Jacksonville. Truitt worked in public higher education for 25 years and knows newspaper publishing, printing and graphic design. Contact: email@example.com