5 eerie things that actually happened on Halloween

Posted: September 30, 2019 in Did you know?
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  • A number of eerie happenings have actually occurred on the last night of October.
  • Coincidence? Maybe.
  • Famed magician Harry Houdini died on Halloween in 1926.
  • The radio broadcast "War of the Worlds" caused mass hysteria on Halloween Eve in 1938.

halloween_cover1On Halloween Eve in 1938, Americans tuning in to CBS radio programming got an eerie interruption: "Martians have invaded New Jersey!" At the time, the pre-Halloween allusion to extraterrestrials caused mass hysteria for thousands of listeners around the country.

Although it was simply a radio play by Orson Welles titled "War of the Worlds," most listeners didn’t realize this. In fact, according to NPR, "about 12 million people were listening when Welles’ broadcast came on the air and ‘about 1 in every 12 … thought it was true and … some percentage of that 1 million people ran out of their homes.’"

This panic-inducing radio broadcast is just one example of a spooky happening that has occurred on Halloween (or the night before the notoriously chilling holiday).

While a number of murders and crimes have taken place on Halloween, a variety of less violent but equally eerie events have also coincidentally unfolded on the holiday. Keep reading to see what they are.

2Famed illusionist Harry Houdini died on Halloween in 1926 after suffering a ruptured appendix, though many claim that the story surrounding his death is shrouded in mystery.

Following one of the famous magician’s final performances in 1926, Harry Houdini suffered an injury that led to his death.

Houdini was teaching students in Montreal a series of tricks, and mentioned that his stomach muscles were so strong they could withstand punches without injury, according to the New York Times archives. A student then reportedly hit him over the appendix twice without warning, and while he felt fine immediately after, he later complained of pain, and collapsed right after the curtain fell at his next show.

Physicians confirmed that the student’s punches caused Houdini’s appendix to burst and poison his system, according to the Times. He died on October 31.

To this day, rumors cloud Houdini’s death, as some claim that he was murdered by Spiritualists – a pseudo religion he continuously tried to debunk.

3On Halloween Eve in 1938, people tuning in to CBS radio heard an unsettling announcement that martians had invaded New Jersey, which created mass hysteria.

The night before Halloween in 1938, listeners to CBS radio had their programming interrupted with an odd message: "Martians have invaded New Jersey!"

It was a radio play titled "War of the Worlds," led by actor, writer, and director Orson Welles and a group of radio actors, but few knew this, and spiraled into a panic over an alien invasion.

According to Radiolab, 12 million people were listening when the "War of the Worlds" came on the air, about 1 in every 12 listeners thought it was true, and about 1 million listeners ran out of their homes, terrified.

4In 1961, former USSR leader Joseph Stalin’s body was removed from public display in Moscow’s Red Square and transferred to a nearby tomb.

On Halloween in 1961, former USSR leader Joseph Stalin’s body – which was previously in a glass coffin in Moscow’s Red Square, alongside the body of Vladimir Lenin – was removed from public display, according to the History Channel.

That day, Stalin’s body was moved to a nearby tomb and was no longer visible to visitors. The decision came at a time when Joseph Stalin and Stalinism were denounced by then-Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev.

5Italian dictator Benito Mussolini organized the first parade to showcase the growing power of the Fascist Party on Halloween in 1922.

On October 31, 1922, thousands of men in black shirts – part of the Fascist Party uniform – stormed the Piazza del Qurinale in Rome. It was how Benito Mussolini violently took control of the government, eventually becoming prime minister, and later dictator.

The events were known as the "March on Rome."

6On Halloween in 1963, an accidental propane gas explosion at an ice-skating exhibition in Indiana caused 74 deaths and left 400 people injured.

The deathly incident occurred at "Holiday on Ice," an ice skating performance at the Indiana State Fairground Coliseum in Indianapolis.

Not long after 11 p.m. on October 31, 1963, while skaters were completing their final routine of the night, gas that had been leaking from a concession area caused an explosion. Flooring caved in, creating a massive crater. The accident led to 74 deaths and left 400 people injured.

Indianapolis Star reporter Richard R. Roberts reported the events of the night and described the tragic aftermath as a horrific scene, writing: "You walked into a nightmare. This was the worst thing I have seen since combat in World War II."

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