EAST ALTON, Ill. – If you thought 2020 couldn’t get any creepier, just take a drive on over to the East Alton Ice Arena. The building was built 25 years ago by a group of hockey and skating enthusiasts to provide a year-round facility for their kids to enjoy ice activities, but little did anyone know about a spooky guest that would enter and never leave.
Larry Thatcher, one of the original owners and current general manager of the area, has been told by locals that the land donated to them for the facility was once a Union Army camp zone during the American Civil War, and not too far away, was a former Confederate prison. This information may seem irrelevant today, but Thatcher and those who are regulars in the facility feel like these fun facts explain it all.
“We’ve just been told that, but it would make sense in light of what we see around here with our resident ghost,” Thatcher said.
That resident ghost has been named “Rinky” by Larry, his now-retired partner Dan Svezia, employees, and children who train for ice sports in the facility.
If you’re new to the building and ask about Rinky, almost everyone will have a unique story to share about an encounter with him. Everyone describes this ghost as a figure dressed in what appears to be an old-fashioned military uniform: a shell jacket with shoulder straps, buttons down the front, a large belt, trousers, boots, and even a wide-brimmed hat.
Larry and Dan have had plenty of odd encounters in the arena. Larry did not hold back in his countless stories of Rinky. He described a time where he and Dan were in the rink, just the two of them, and the lights were dimmed because they were getting ready to leave.
All of a sudden, they saw someone standing in the back right corner of the arena. They began to yell out and ask if they could help the gentlemen. They received no answer. They asked again with a little more aggression, and again, received no answer. They both began to walk towards the person but when they got closer, the figure disappeared.
They began to run to try and catch the intruder, but when they busted through the exit door, no one was there.
Larry says he has been alone in the building at 5 a.m. and has heard soft voices that sounds like someone is talking in the building, knocks on doors with no one behind them when opened, and motion sensors going off with no one moving around in the area. They even caught a weird incident on one of their 16 security cameras in the building of hundreds of orbs flying around in the same corner, and only in that corner, where they saw Rinky vanish.
While Rinky may roam around the arena to randomly let people know he’s there, East Alton Ice Arena still plans on having a fun Halloween experience with a trunk or treat event.
“We’re inviting more trunks and treaters, and anyone who wants to come out. It should be a good time,” said Katie McKeon, the arena office manager.
The trunk or treat event will be held Saturday, October 31 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the East Alton Ice Arena. All are welcomed and COVID-19 guidelines will be followed to keep everyone safe.