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Ghost sighting: White Lady emerges from tree

The winds that roared through the Rochester area were ferocious enough to awaken a few local ghosts.

Ghost sighting: White Lady emerges from tree

TODD CLAUSEN/@ToddJClausen/Staff Photographer

The wind ripped a large chunk of wood from a tree in Durand-Eastman Park in the storm, leaving behind a splintered, spectral shape that some believe is a ghost at the center of a decades-old Rochester legend.

Also known as the Lady in the Lake, the 19th-century White Lady wanders the park area, obsessively looking for the body of her daughter, who was slain by a boyfriend or group of hoodlums, depending on the story you hear. Legend has it that the human White Lady either killed herself in grief, or died alone and heartbroken.

The lady’s shape in the tree resembles a woman with a skull-like face, wearing a dress and stretching her arms overhead. Some say it appears as if she's holding a baby. The tree broke naturally in the storm, said Monroe County Parks Department Director Larry Staub, quelling rumors of a prankster carving the apparition into the bark.

"I can assure you that’s it’s natural," he said, adding that the tree, though damaged, isn't in danger of falling over right now. "I’m sure this is going to rekindle interest in this and bring a whole new generation of specter seekers," he said.

Ghost sighting: White Lady emerges from tree

TODD CLAUSEN/@ToddJClausen/Staff Photographer

People have reported seeing the lady rising from the water, or walking around with two spectral hound dogs. She apparently favors women over men, since men led to her child’s demise. She was even featured in a locally directed 1988 movie called Lady in White.

Spectators showed up at the park this week to check out the tree themselves, and relive memories of hanging out at the “white lady’s castle” at the park as teenagers (the “castle” is really just an old dining area for pre-Depression era tourists.)

“I think it’s spooky. … It’s definitely pretty creepy,” said Jamal Bollar of Rochester as he visited the lady in the tree this week.

This isn’t his first time seeing the White Lady. Once when he and a friend were in a car at the “castle” late at night, he looked out the rear view mirror and saw a mysterious face staring back at him from behind a tree.

Few other pop culture fads enthrall people more than ghosts, and seeing ghosts in inanimate objects. In 2005, people flocked to a tree on North Clinton Avenue because the face of Jesus had mysteriously appeared in the bark. Countless hotels in the area have ghostly histories, including the Reunion Inn across from Seabreeze Amusement Park.

Should you be skeptical? Maybe. But maybe you should pay the White Lady the visit to see for yourself, before she visits you.

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