WINOOSKI – A 2016 study by Statistic Brain puts the annual death rate for the state of Vermont at 741 per 100,000 people, well below the national average of 846, and 45th in the nation. With Vermont only ahead of Wyoming in terms of overall population, and way behind Wyoming’s 24th place standing for annual death rate, this means that the green mountain state is producing fewer ghosts and ghouls than any other state in America. As Halloween approaches, many local businesses are scrambling to try to lure dead and undead creatures from other states, hoping to encourage supernatural tourism.
“The fact is, Vermont just isn’t very ghost-friendly,” says Winooski businessman Ray Winston. “We aren’t attracting new spooks, and we aren’t retaining the ones we already have.” Winston has been lobbying hard this year for various tax incentives aimed at making it easier for creatures from beyond the grave to haunt in Vermont, but with little success. “I just don’t think Montpelier is taking this issue seriously. We have dozens of terrifying old abandoned houses in Winooski alone, and almost none of them are properly haunted.”
Vermonters are split on the issue of offering special incentives to poltergeists. Jack Timm of Burton Snowboards, the Lake Champlain Chamber of Commerce’s 2017 Business of the Year, said in a company blog post that “Vermont must continue to embrace ways to affirm and support businesses, run by both the living and the dead,” if it wants to be competitive on a national and global level. But Essex resident Peter Tulley recently wrote in an op-ed letter that “our tax money should be going to people who are, for the most part, alive.”
Winston, for his part, says that he isn’t done trying to convince the deceased that Vermont is the place for them. He has planned outreach programs in both New York and New Hampshire, aimed at making Vermont more appealing to any ghosts looking for a new haunt. And soon, if he has his way, Winston will have ghosts across the country saying “I ain’t afraid of Vermont.”
Image Credits: Rebecca Partington.