The Believe It Tour came to Rhode Island last Friday to host a vampire-themed blood drive at the R.I. Blood Center and celebrate the season premiere of HBO’s “True Blood.” The company promotes something called “Believeitology” and encourages exploration of the weird, folkloric and supernatural – all in good fun.
There are five fields of study: Cryptozoology (study of “cryptids,” or animal-like creatures such as Bigfoot, Mothman, the Loch Ness Monster and Chupacabra); Paranormal (mostly ghosts and hauntings); Extraterrestrial (aliens and UFOs); Monsters (zombies, vampires, dragons, werewolves, mummies or any creatures bent on destroying humanity); and Folklore (the beliefs, rituals and stories contained within a culture, including such seasonal and holiday customs as Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Green Man).
Believe It Tour (or BIT as we’ll call it from now on) is a national organization but it’s hard to imagine a better place for them to detour than Rhody, home to the grandmaster of weird fiction, H.P. Lovecraft, two Roto-Rooter plumbers turned Ghost Hunters and enough legends of vampires, devils and phantom ships to fill a crypt. Rhode Island has its own state folklorist in Michael Bell. Providence cemeteries are sometimes converted into public art galleries. Edgar Allan Poe once spent a few months pining for a lost love on Benefit Street. Back when Rhode Island was a colony, records of visits by ghosts, witches and devils were legion. Zombie walks occur with increasing regularity in the capital city. Somewhere a few years back in Hope Valley, a Rhode Island couple converted an empty strip mall store into an extraterrestrial reporting center.
Here’s a guarantee: Spend a day walking through Providence and you’ll run into a cryptid. Probably more than one. It may not have a fancy name like Clam Man or Swamp Yankee Thing but you can be sure that it will be only vaguely human – although, oddly enough, quite often erudite.
What is your favorite example of Rhode Island folklore?