The State Theatre is proud to boast of a paranormal legend… FRED the Ghost, who has made several appearances in the past few years to patrons, volunteers, and staff.
Here’s the story:
While live performances at the State Theatre were in decline during the 1970’s, there were strange sightings reported – a presence no one could account for. When the theatre was empty, maintenance workers would sometimes glimpse a man at the back of the theatre, just standing, or perhaps entering one of the utility closets. On a few occasions, the police were called and found no one in the building. Once, hair bristled on the necks of dogs they had brought, but nothing was visible to the officers.
Several people have guessed at the identity of the mystery man, J. Fred Osterstock, a distinguished looking gentleman who managed the company that owned the theatre from 1936-1965. Due to a flood in 1955 that covered the first floor of his house for several weeks, Fred lived at the State Theatre, setting up home in the office located to the right of the foyer.
Convinced that his presence has never left, the staff of the State Theatre has named the ghost FRED. Almost ten sightings have been reported, with some of the voyeurs being members of the State’s Board of Directors. Then in the late 1970’s, Historian Ken Klabunde saw someone walk off the empty stage while closing for the evening. Some time later he found a photograph of Osterstock and recognized him as the man on the stage.
Fred has managed to endure the State Theatre’s restoration, completed in 1990, and continues to have a strong, distinct presence at the State. He is included in the book Ghost Stories of the Lehigh Valley and was introduced to the nation in 1999 on the syndicated radio program The Mike Gallagher Show, which broadcast live from the State Theatre, paying tribute to the Theatre’s live-in friend.
In 2003, the State Theatre honored FRED by naming the Annual FREDDY AWARDS after him – an awards ceremony that recognizes outstanding achievement in local high school theater.