Monsters, Mysterious Beasts and the “Lovers Lane” Link

In the latter part of 2002 and into the early months of 2003, the U.K. was inundated with reports of Bigfoot-type beasts. From the southernmost parts of England to practically the tip of Scotland, people claimed encounters with large, hair covered, man-beasts – many of a marauding and violent kind. One of those who was determined to get to the heart of the mystery was Jonathan Downes. He is the director of the Woolsery, England-based Center for Fortean Zoology – which is one of the very few, full-time groups in the world dedicated to the study of strange creatures, such as the Chupacabra, the Loch Ness Monster, and the Abominable Snowman. Without doubt, the most intense wave of activity occurred in the north of England at a town called Bolam – or, more specifically at Bolam Lake, a large body of water that is itself a definitive hotspot for young lovers on Friday and Saturday nights. It was on a freezing cold morning in January 2003 that Downes and his team of monster-hunters drove up to Bolam from Downes’ home in Devon – a mammoth convoy-style drive, to be sure. High-strangeness hit the team – and in sinister fashion – just about as soon as they arrived. To his consternation, Downes found that all of his electrical devices – his computer, his cell-phone, his audio equipment, and his cameras – were completely and utterly drained of power. All of them had to be charged before they could be used. This further bolsters the idea that energy-“eating” entities – in the form of Bigfoot – were wildly on the loose and had already got their claws into not just Jon Downes and his crew, but into his devices, too.

(Nick Redfern) Monster-hunter Jonathan Downes

Of the many and varied accounts given to Downes during his time at Bolam Lake, one of the most intriguing came from a man named Neil. In his 2004 autobiography, Monster Hunter, Downes says: “Possibly the most astounding story that [Neil] had to recount had taken place a couple of summers before our visit. He had been in the woods at the opposite side of the lake with his girlfriend. They had been making love when his girlfriend told him she that she could see what she thought was a man in a monkey suit watching their sexual adventures from behind a bush. Neil, unsurprisingly, looked around the area but could find nothing.” It should be noted that tales of monsters suddenly appearing when sex is going down are curiously intriguing. Indeed, there are numerous such cases. And, I’ll share some of the stories with you.

It was back in the summer of 1969 that sightings of a strange creature began to surface from the city of Lake Worth, Texas – which takes its name from the local, large lake of the very same name. Although many of the reports suggest that the creature may have been a nomadic Bigfoot, it soon became known to one and all as the Goat-Man – on account of the fact that some eyewitnesses claimed it had goat-like horns protruding from its hair-covered head. Hardly the kind of thing that you see every day! Most of the stories had one thing in common: for the most part they came from couples parked in their cars late at night, deep in the woods of the lake, and doing what couples have done ever since the car was invented.  One such couple were John Reichart and his wife. Along with a couple of friends, who were also there to have some fun, they found themselves confronted by the weird beast, and at the stroke of midnight, no less. It leapt onto the car’s hood and left deep scratch marks along the side of the vehicle. The beast then quickly bounded off into the darkness. The fun was definitely over and all four quickly, and filled with panic, headed to the local police station. The story was taken very seriously by the local cops, who had no doubt that the four were in states of deep fear.

(Nick Redfern) Hanging out at the lair of the Goat-Man: Lake Worth, Texas

It wasn’t long before the story reached the local media: the first story on the creature was titled “Fishy Man-Goat Terrifies Couples Parked at Lake Worth.” It appeared in the pages of the Fort Worth-based Star Telegram, on July 10, 1969. The article was written by none other than the late conspiracy theorist, Jim Marrs, who died in 2017.  It’s intriguing to note that one of the witnesses to the Goat-Man – a man named Jack Harris, a resident of Fort Worth – attempted to take a picture of the creature, only to find that his camera suddenly died on him, which is near-identical to the situation Jon Downes found himself in an Bolam lake, England in January 2003 – decades later and on the other side of the world. The mystery of the Goat-Man soon came to a sudden end; although, it’s worth noting that reports still continue to surface even now and again, suggesting that the monster is far from being done with the people of Lake Worth. One final thing on the Lake Worth Goat-Man: for many of the witnesses, the closest thing they could liken the creature to was a satyr of ancient Greek mythology. It’s worth noting that satyrs had powerful sex drives.

Between late 1966 and December of 1967, the people of Point Pleasant, West Virginia found themselves in the icy grip of a fear-inducing monster. It became infamously known as the Mothman. Its name was most apt: the creature was described as being humanoid in form, but with a large pair of dark wings, and a pair of eyes that blazed menacingly. Numerous encounters with the beast were reported, all of them creating overwhelming terror in those that crossed its path. People saw the man-beast soaring the sky late at night, lit up by a powerful moon. It chased terrified drivers on the dark roads around town – and matters all culminated in the collapse of Point Pleasant’s Silver Bridge, in December 1967. Dozens of those on the bridge at the time lost their lives, their vehicles plummeting into the churning waters below. Today, there are two prevailing theories: that either the Mothman caused the disaster; or that, in its strange, own way, it tried to warn people when the tragedy was looming large. The jury is still very much out on that one.

(Nick Redfern) One of the world’s most famous monsters

It’s most interesting to note that the bulk of the initial sightings of the monster occurred at – yes, you’ve guessed it – Point Pleasant’s very own Lovers Lane. It was a place that, locally, was known as “the TNT area.” There was a very good reason for that. And it had nothing to do with explosive fun on the backseats of cars. Today, the area is called the McClintic Wildlife Management Area. Back in the Second World War, though, there existed around five miles outside of town a processing plant for the production of TNT – hence the name. As for the storage area of the TNT, it was a nearby place in the woods where a number of secure, igloo-like buildings were constructed to house the highly dangerous and volatile materials. It was a bustling area, an important military facility that helped the Allies to overcome the hordes of crazy Adolf Hitler. Indeed, at the height of things, more than 3,000 people were employed at the factory. But, that was then. By the 1960s, the area was very different.

Friday and Saturday nights were when the woods were filled with cars. Guys and girls, playing music, sex,drinking beer, and having a blast. That’s until the Mothman put paid to all of that. In November 1966, one of the most spectacular encounters with the monster was reported by Roger and Linda Scarberry and Steve and Mary Mallette. It wasn’t long after the four reached the old plant when they encountered in the shadows an approximately seven-foot-tall monster glaring at them. They wasted no time in exiting the area: the accelerator was floored and it wasn’t long at all before they breathlessly shared their story with Deputy Millard Halstead, of the local sheriff’s office. The media had a field day with the story – a story which, arguably, set the scene for the mayhem that was to follow, and which culminated with the collapse of the Silver Bridge. Today, the area is even spookier: the old TNT plant is no more, as it has been razed to the ground and the area is fenced off. As for the now-decades-old igloos, they are empty, abandoned and covered in overgrown bushes, vines and moss, and hidden by the trees. Graffiti adorns most of the igloos – some with imagery of Mothman himself. The setting – and particularly so at night – is apocalyptic, to say the least. Indeed, the ruined, run-down area looks like the kind of locale one might expect to see in the likes of The Walking Dead. And, decades later, it still oozes a sense of hard to describe menace.

(Nick Redfern) Beware!

Notably, at the very same time that the events in Point Pleasant, West Virginia were afoot, very similar things were going down in New York – in Huntington, specifically in the area of Mount Misery. Like Point Pleasant, the area is steeped in weirdness and an atmosphere of high-strangeness prevails. Strange creatures – such as “black panthers,” and ghostly black dogs with eyes like burning coals – roam the heart of the woods. Ghostly children have been seen wandering the old lanes after the sun has set. Pale-skinned Men in Black have knocked on the doors of locals late at night, warning them not to discuss the supernatural activity that dominates the area. And, for years, Mount Misery – with its thick, dense canopies of trees – has been a beacon for lovers. Midway through May 1967, John Keel reported in his 1975 book, The Mothman Prophecies, that a young couple – Richard and Jane – after an evening of hanging out and making out were driving to Richard’s home when he suddenly fell sick. He was overcome by weakness and nausea and briefly passed out at the wheel. Fortunately, because of the tight corners on the small, winding roads, Richard was barely driving at fifteen miles per hour, something which allowed Jane to quickly grab the wheel and bring the car to a halt. The next thing Jane remembered was seeing a bright flash, followed by a groggy sense of missing time and a feeling of memories of…well, something…erased from her mind. For Jane, all of this led her to believe that the light had come from a UFO and that she and Richard had been taken on-board the craft – a definitive case of what today we would call an alien abduction.

So, why should there be “sex and the supernatural”-type situations, at all? Well, the answer to that important question lies in the work of Wilhelm Reich and his research into what he termed Orgone energy. Reich’s work was truly groundbreaking and, today, provides a strong and logical explanation for how and why supernatural entities are so reliant on us, from the perspective of sucking in sexual energy. From the days of the monsters of the Sumerian culture to the present era, it is Orgone on which so many of our monsters feed. But, before we get to the issue of this mysterious energy itself, let’s first take a look at the life, work and ultimately untimely death of the man who uncovered it and named it. Wilhelm Reich entered this world in 1897, specifically on March 24. The location? Dobrianychi, Galicia, in central-eastern Europe; although, German-speaking Reich was a citizen of Austria until the age of forty. By all accounts, Reich’s fascination for science and technology went right back to the early days of his childhood. Even by the age of just eight, he had his very own lab, in which he bred numerous different kinds of insects. Reich was fascinated by the reproductive processes of such creatures, something which most assuredly had an impact on his interest – in later life – in human sexuality and reproduction.

An important question is, of course: how did Reich reach this particular conclusion? The answer is both simple and controversial. Reich used both male and female volunteers to monitor their levels of electricity when their genitals were stimulated. By comparing those volunteers with people in non-aroused states, Reich noted something amazing: that not just sex itself, but sexual arousal and fantasizing led to profound increases in energy levels. Or, as Reich, himself, worded it, “a bio-electrical discharge,” which he concluded was present in all living organisms. It became famously known as Orgone, which was derived directly from the word “orgasm.” Dr. Paul Chambers, in his 1999 book Sex & the Paranormal, stated: “Sexual arousal, said Reich, was like a thunderstorm, with the orgasm being like a lightning strike, discharging all the built-up sexual energy from the body.” Now, you know why – when sex surfaces – so do monsters: they are feeding on us.

The post Monsters, Mysterious Beasts and the “Lovers Lane” Link first appeared on Mysterious Universe.

A Damned and Deadly Dam: Occult Activity, Rockets, Murder, Aleister Crowley and Much More

At his birth in 1914, Jack Parsons – a major player in the story told in my Final Events book and revolutionary rocket expert – was given the memorable and unusual name of Marvel Whiteside Parsons and had a truly extraordinary life. An undoubted genius, he indirectly led NASA to send the Apollo astronauts to the Moon in 1969. Moreover, the Aerojet Corporation – which Parsons personally founded – produced solid-fuel rocket boosters for the Space Shuttle that are based on Parsons’ very own, decades-old innovations. For his accomplishments, a large crater on the far side of the Moon was named in Parsons’ honor, and each and every year, on Halloween no less, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory holds an open-house memorial, replete with mannequins of Jack Parsons and his early JPL cohorts known as “Nativity Day.” And, within the aerospace community, there is a longstanding joke that JPL actually stands for “Jack Parsons Laboratory” or “Jack Parsons Lives.” In fact, Parsons, who was so revered and honored by very senior figures within the U.S. space-program, was an admitted occultist, and a follower of Aleister Crowley. And, before each rocket test, Parsons would undertake a ritual to try and invoke the Greek god, Pan. Much of Parsons’ – and the JPL’s – initial rocket research in this period was undertaken around the appropriately-named Devil’s Gate Dam in California.

(Nick Redfern) Welcome to Devil’s Gate Dam

As Vice note, Parsons “…joined Thelema, the occult movement founded by British occultist Aleister Crowley, and took over the movement’s California branch. Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard lived in Parson’s home for a time and slept with his wife. Parsons attempted, repeatedly, to use sex magick to summon various deities to the Earthly plane. All while continuing to work as a rocket scientist.” On November 2, 1950, a California-based special-agent of the FBI prepared a report on the actions of Jack Parsons that stated in part: “Subject, on September 15, 1950 removed certain documents pertaining to jet propulsion motors and rocket propellants without authority from Hughes Aircraft Company, Culver City, California; his place of employment [and which had been his place of employment since May 8, 1949].” On September 25, after the documents in question had been retrieved by the authorities, they were duly handed over to a Air Force Major E.J. Krenz, after which, the FBI recorded: “[Parsons] voluntarily came to the Los Angeles office, September 27, 1950 and in [a] signed statement admitted removing documents without authority stating he desired to extract certain information from them as aid in computing [the] cost proposal on jet propulsion motors. He planned to submit this with [an] employment application through American Technion Society for employment in the country of Israel.”

(Nick Redfern) A Devilish location

Whether his apology was genuine or it was simply a groveling attempt to try and avoid serious problems with the authorities and charges that he was secretly engaged in espionage operations for Israel, Parsons certainly obfuscated the facts and played down his ongoing involvement in matters of an occult nature. When interviewed by the FBI on September 28, he said that he had “severed all relations” with the dark world that had so dominated his earlier years, and “…described himself as being an ‘individualist,’” according to the interviewing special-agent in his report. Now, we come to one of the strangest aspects of Parsons’ life – it revolves around nothing less than the creation of life. Filmmaker Renate Druks, who was an acquaintance of Marjorie Elizabeth Cameron, said in Nat Freedland’s The Occult Explosion: “I have every reason to believe that Jack Parsons was working on some very strange experiments, trying to create what the old alchemists call a homunculus, a tiny artificial man with magic powers.

Ancient alchemists had several methods of bringing these diminutive humanoids to life; one involved the mandrake. Popular, centuries-old belief holds that the mandrake plant grew on ground where semen ejaculated by hanged men had fallen to earth, and, as a result, its roots vaguely resemble those of a human being. To ensure a successful creation of the homunculus, the root is to be picked before dawn on a Friday morning by a black dog, then washed and nourished with milk and honey and, in some prescriptions, blood, whereupon it develops into a miniature human that will guard and protect its owner. Another method, cited by Dr. David Christianus at the University of Giessen during the 18th century, was to take an egg laid by a black hen, poke a tiny hole through its shell, replace a bean-sized portion of the egg white with human semen, seal the opening with virgin parchment, and bury the egg in dung on the first day of the March lunar cycle. The ancient teachings suggested that a miniature humanoid would emerge from the egg after thirty days and, in return, help and protect its creator for a steady diet of lavender seeds and earthworms.

(Nick Redfern) A sinister and strange area

Whether or not Parsons really did create life, the fact is that his life would soon be over. As Gina Dimuro notes: “On June 17, 1952, Jack Parsons was working on explosives for a film project in his home laboratory when an unplanned detonation destroyed the lab and killed him. The 37-year-old was found with broken bones, a missing right forearm, and half of his face nearly ripped off.” Accident or murder? That is a question still debated by researchers of Parsons and his life. Interestingly, the JPL was itself established at this very locale in 1930 by the California Institute of Technology. The dam had been constructed a decade earlier by engineers from the Los Angeles County Flood Control District and took its title from Devil’s Gate Gorge, a rocky out-cropping that eerily resembles a demonic face. Some time ago, I spent a day hanging out with good mate Greg Bishop, and we took a drive out to the infamous locale, and where I took the pictures you can see right here. Now, with all that said, let’s take a closer look at Devil’s Gate Dam.

(Nick Redfern) The Jet Propulsion Laboratory

As Only In Your State say: “Beginning with the first people who inhabited Pasadena’s Arroyo Seco, there have been rumors of a spiritual connection to the place. The Tongva believed water running through the gorge sounded like laughter, which they attributed to the coyote spirit.” And there’s more: “In the 1920s, the narrowest place in the Arroyo Seco was dammed to control flooding, and it was named Devil’s Gate Dam, for the demon-like face of a horned figure in the natural rock outcropping.” There’s more to take in, too. Los Angeles Almanac give us this: “The Devil’s Gate Dam and Reservoir, adjacent to Oak Grove Park Road, just within the boundary of Pasadena, between Pasadena and La Cañada Flintridge, has long drawn the attention of paranormal enthusiasts. Besides alleged Native American legends of being a gateway into the afterlife, it was said to have been the site of occultic rituals during the 1940s and, during the 1950s, mysterious disappearances of children.” And, there are the words of Arroyo Monthly,: who reveal that there “…have been subsequent reports of suicides (typically, hearsay) at Devil’s Gate, and many people who have hiked there have reported that, amid the trash and mud, burned Bibles have been observed as well as the occasional ritual. A cyclist’s body was found there in 1998 under mysterious circumstances, and para-
normal practitioners have lugged equipment to the rock, delighted when they were able to record “evidence” of otherworldly energies.”

And, with all of that said, I would suggest that anyone with an interest in the Devil’s Gate Dam and the occult to go and take a look at it. It is indeed an intriguing place – and one with a fascinating (and disturbing) history.

The post A Damned and Deadly Dam: Occult Activity, Rockets, Murder, Aleister Crowley and Much More first appeared on Mysterious Universe.

A Total Solar Eclipse and Nine Meteor Showers – December’s Sky Events

December will be a busy month for sky events from nine meteor showers, to a solar eclipse, and even spotting an asteroid. Let’s take a look at what to expect during the last month of 2021.

The peak of the Phoenicids meteor shower will occur on December 2nd in the constellation Phoenix but with very few shooting stars per hour. Those living near the equator and in the southern hemisphere (Central and South America, Southern Europe, Middle East, Africa, Southeast Asia, and Oceania) will have the best view of it.

A total solar eclipse will happen on December 4th; however, it will only be visible in totality from Antarctica and the very southern part of the Atlantic Ocean. Those in the southern tip of South Africa will have an opportunity to watch some of it as well.

December 6th will be the peak of the φ-Cassiopeid meteor shower in the constellation Cassiopeia but with very few shooting stars each hour.

The conjunction of the moon and Saturn will happen at sunset on December 7th when they will be just 4°11′ away from each other. Saturn will be in the constellation Capricornus not far from the crescent moon.

The peak of the Puppid-Velid meteor shower will also happen on December 7th in between the constellations Puppis and Vela. The best time to get a glimpse of a few meteors each hour will be between midnight and 3:00 am local time.

Another sky treat will happen on December 7th when Venus will be at its brightest of the entire the year with a magnitude of -4.7.

The conjunction of the moon and Jupiter will occur after sunset on December 9th when they will be 4°28′ from one another.

The peak of the Monocerotid meteor shower will happen on December 9th as well in the constellation Monoceros. The faint constellation is located west of Orion, north of Gemini, south of Canis Major, and east of Hydra. The best time to view the shooting stars will be between 1:00 am and 3:00 am local time.

December 10th is when asteroid 44 Nysa will be at opposition. Even though it will be illuminated by the sun, you’ll still need a telescope or binoculars to spot it in the main asteroid belt.

The peak of the σ-Hydrid meteor shower will be on December 12th in the constellation Hydra. While you should be able to view a few shooting stars after sunset on December 11th, the best time to look for them will be between 2:00 am and 5:00 am local time on December 12th.

December 14th will be the peak of the Geminid meteor shower where you could spot as many as 120 meteors each hour in the constellation Gemini which is located in the northeastern part of the sky. The best time to view it will be around 2:00 am local time; however, the moon will be 85% illuminated, so it may cause a bit of a problem in spotting some of the shooting stars.

Two nights later on December 16th, the peak of the Comae Berenicid meteor shower will happen. It will be below the horizon for the majority of the northern hemisphere, but those living in the southern hemisphere will be able to observe up to three meteors per hour in the constellation Leo with the best time being between the hours of midnight and 2:00 am.

The peak of the Leonis Minorid meteor shower will happen on December 19th in the Leo Minor constellation with up to three meteors each hour. It can be viewed in the lower part of the northwestern sky.

The winter solstice in the northern hemisphere will be on December 21st and will be the longest night of the entire year. It will be the shortest night of 2021 in the southern hemisphere where it will be the summer solstice.

The following night on December 22nd will be the peak of the Ursid meteor shower in the northern sky’s Ursa Minor constellation. You should be able to see some shooting stars as the moon will be near its new phase and the sky will be very dark.

The post A Total Solar Eclipse and Nine Meteor Showers – December’s Sky Events first appeared on Mysterious Universe.

A Nightmare Before Christmas in Trenton

On December 22nd, 1978, Jean Zelinsky was hardly feeling the holiday spirit. She was 48, single, and living with her mother in a small, five-room house in Ringoes. Jean always had trouble finding a suitor. Neighbors theorized it was due to her lazy eye. Jean’s mother, Julia, resented her for never marrying, and for giving up a good job as a government clerk so that she could study teaching at a local college. After years and years of insults and bickering, Jean Zelinsky had finally had enough.

Three days before Christmas, Jean strangled her 78-year-old mother to death in their home. Standing over Julia Zelinsky’s body, Jean took a kitchen knife and decapitated her. Tossing the head into a plastic shopping bag, Jean got into her car and headed straight for Trenton – but not before stopping to wave to a neighbor.

Pulling onto West State Street, Zelinsky aimed the nose of her Oldsmobile straight at the New Jersey State House. Inside, several workers, police officers, and reporters were enjoying drinks and sharing each other’s laughter and company at a holiday celebration.

Suddenly, a loud crash was heard, and everyone raced outside. There, they found Jean’s car smashed into a marble column. She had driven it all the way up the front steps of the State House. Pete Weiss, a New Jersey State Trooper who was on site, rushed towards the Oldsmobile. Jean rolled her window down and howled, “MERRY CHRISTMAS! THIS IS WHAT YOU WANT!”

She then chucked the bag containing her mother’s severed head at the policeman.

Before Weiss could even react to the strange parcel thrown his way, Zelinsky suddenly produced a blade, and began slicing at her throat. As the trooper struggled to intervene, a secretary approached the lumpy plastic bag lying on the State House steps. Peering into a small opening, she saw the face of Julia Zelinsky gazing back at her. The secretary took off running down West State Street, crying, “It’s a head! It’s a head!”

Police opened the bag and indeed found Julia Zelinsky’s head – with a small American flag embedded in the stump of the neck.

Needless to say, the party was over.

This holiday season give that hard-to-shop-for person on your shopping list the gift of weirdness with a 2021 subscription, one of our other unique stocking stuffers.

Visit our SHOP for all of your Weird NJ needs: MagazinesBooksShirtsPatchesHats, Stickers, Magnets, Air Fresheners. Show the world your Jersey pride some of our Jersey-centric goodies! Many items also available through our Web Site or Amazon Store.

Zelinsky was eventually subdued and carried away on a stretcher. While her superficial neck wounds were treated at the local hospital, investigators searched Jean’s decrepit home and found the rest of her mother – along with cabinets filled with rotting food. Police also observed the torn remnants of Jean’s wardrobe, which she had apparently slashed up in a fit of rage.

Jean Zelinsky was subsequently put on trial for the murder of her mother, and was found not guilty by reason of insanity. She was condemned to Trenton Psychiatric Hospital where she died in April 2011 at the age of 80. –Jesse P. Pollack

READ MORE WEIRD NJ CHRISTMAS STORIES HERE.

This story is an excerpt from Weird NJ magazine, “YourTravel Guide to New Jersey’s Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets,” which is available on newsstands throughout the state and on the web at www.WeirdNJ.com. All contents ©Weird NJ and may not be reproduced by any means without permission.

Visit our SHOP for all of your Weird NJ needs: MagazinesBooksShirtsPatchesHats, Stickers, Magnets, Air Fresheners. Show the world your Jersey pride some of our Jersey-centric goodies. Represent!

 ‌  ‌  ‌

Martel’s Christmas Wonderland

Story and photos by Rich Robinson
Hark! Hear the herald of the power meter’s ring! What is that beacon that shines just over the horizon in that little town of Hamilton? Behold! It is the Martel Christmas Wonderland! The season is upon us once again when the New Jersey residence that puts Clark Griswold to shame year after year is fully illuminated – The “Hamilton Christmas House” as it is known to the casual passerby, Bob Martel’s House as his friends and neighbors call it, or as it is officially known, Martel’s Christmas Wonderland, is plugged in, powered up, and open each night until about 10 PM.

Photo by Mark NP.

Brightly lit and surprisingly quiet, even when crowds gather to stare in gleeful amazement at the radiant glow of its incandescent grandeur, the yards of a modest two story home on Phillips Street are jam packed with every blow-molded polyethylene electrically illuminated Christmas Holiday figure known to mankind – close to two thousand of all types and every descriptions. (I will take an official stance that it is nearly impossible to count with any certainty, as Bob keeps adding more stuff.) Though there are far too many to list them all, there have come to be: wooden soldiers, choirs of angels, nativity scenes, Santas, elves, cartoon characters, animals, and even a 20-foot tall inflatable Santa this year in the annual display. Kids and adults alike love to bask in the glow of incandescent colors and hear the repetitive recordings at the various displays emanating their holiday jingles. There is even a huge, singing 6-foot Bass on a Plaque with a Santa Cap on it.

This holiday season give that hard-to-shop-for person on your shopping list the gift of weirdness with a 2020 subscription, one of our other unique stocking stuffers.

Visit our SHOP for all of your Weird NJ needs: MagazinesBooksShirtsPatchesHats, Stickers, Magnets, Air Fresheners. Show the world your Jersey pride some of our Jersey-centric goodies! Many items also available through our Web Site or Amazon Store.

Bob buys up whole collections of other people’s displays to incorporate into his own. Once, at a flea market where he had just closed a deal with the seller on EVERYTHING in the store, a lady yelled out: “Hey! I was going to buy that! Let someone else buy something!” (then mumbled something about eBay under her breath). Bob kindly explained to her what he was doing with it all and she froze, looked at him with a smile and proclaimed: “Oh! You’re The Christmas Guy from Hamilton! We love that place, we go every year!” Needless to say, she changed her tune, which is only right, as in Bob’s care those decorations will be seen by untold thousands of visitors each year.

The grand display has opened on Black Friday each season for the past 29 years and typically runs until about the first week of January. On Sundays you might even catch a glimpse of ol’ St. Nick himself! It has been a generational favorite with parents who visited as children and now bring their own kids. Some holiday travelers make the pilgrimage several times each season when the Wonderland is up and running to see the truly remarkable spectacle continue to grow. If you meet Bob Martel, you’ll see the pride in his eyes and he’ll be quick to tell you about the generation of visitors who come by year after year…from what I can plainly see, that is what motivates him, that gift of visitation and marvel.

As this massive festivity grows each year, it has begun to expand onto a willing neighbor’s yard, but Bob responsibly takes care to preserve his neighbors’ parking spots with cones to reserve their spaces. Visitors are also urged to please park with courtesy and care, it is the NJ way.

Although the display is 100% free for all to marvel at, if you’d like to leave a token of appreciation to the creator of this amazing attraction it would likely go to offset the 1700-2000 dollar power bill Bob Martel pays to PSE&G each month. Now that LEDs are all the rage, the annual financial damage of the display is starting to drop gradually, with the savings being due to the more efficient lighting. But the power meter continues to spin fast enough to throw a clay pot onto. See for yourself, it’s in the driveway on the side of the house.

Bob Martel in his Colorful Wonderland of Holiday Cheer.

And so as the wheel of holiday traditions rolls ever forward, it always rolls past the Martel’s Christmas Wonderland. Stay for a moment or an hour, drive by or walk through the yard…it’s up to you. But I will tell you this: It makes one hell of a great background for a selfie! So bring your camera. It’s a gift of loving holiday cheer all of NJ is welcome enjoy. The effort put into this ever-expanding extravaganza is such a celebration, a testament to dependability and faithful duty to decorate, it’s almost a mandatory requirement for any decent observer of holiday cheer to pay a visit to Bob Martel’s place. It is highly recommended that you GO SEE IT!

A special thanks to Bob and the Martel Family for this very generous celebration of seasonal holiday cheer and goodwill towards our fellow man. Your gift to all who come to see is truly appreciated. Merry Christmas to all from Weird NJ!

Rich Robinson, your Weird NJ correspondent at large.

The Martel Christmas Wonderland is located on Phillips Ave. in Hamilton Township, Mercer County, NJ. For more information it is advisable to check their Facebook page.

READ MORE WEIRD NJ CHRISTMAS STORIES HERE.

UPDATE 2020: Hamilton’s Martel’s Christmas Wonderland Wins $50,000 on ABC’s ‘Great Christmas Light Fight’

This story is an excerpt from Weird NJ magazine, “YourTravel Guide to New Jersey’s Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets,” which is available on newsstands throughout the state and on the web at www.WeirdNJ.com. All contents ©Weird NJ and may not be reproduced by any means without permission.

Visit our SHOP for all of your Weird NJ needs: MagazinesBooksShirtsPatchesHats, Stickers, Magnets, Air Fresheners. Show the world your Jersey pride some of our Jersey-centric goodies. Represent!

 ‌  ‌  ‌

Christmas Weirdness in Clifton

One of our favorite Christmas House designers is a Clifton dentist named Dr. Wayne Gangi. Dr. Gangi moved to his Clifton home in 1999. It took him a year to

renovate it to make it suitable for an office. Once he did, he soon realized that he was on a great corner for putting up displays. The first one was a Halloween themed display, which  received such great reviews that he decided to create a more elaborate display with every year that passed.

Before long his increasingly elaborate, which have featured Easter, St. Patrick’s Day and beach party themes,  began drawing huge crowds, often to the chagrin of the local police department, who complained about the traffic problems they caused.

“That’s right, unfortunately it draws a big crowd.” Wayne admitted to Weird NJ. “This past Halloween they calculated that there were between five and ten thousand people hanging around. I gave out close to 3,000 candies––the adult size from Costco. There were 22 police officers here and 17 police cars,” he told us proudly.

Isn’t that a bit ironic, a dentist giving out candy? We asked. “Just because you’re a dentist doesn’t mean you can’t have candy. I’m all for it!”

This holiday season give that hard-to-shop-for person on your shopping list the gift of weirdness with a 2022 subscription, one of our other unique stocking stuffers.

Visit our SHOP for all of your Weird NJ needs: MagazinesBooksShirtsPatchesHats, Stickers, Magnets, Air Fresheners. Show the world your Jersey pride some of our Jersey-centric goodies! Many items also available through our Web Site or Amazon Store.

In 2013 Clifton police started issuing traffic tickets to the large crowds who come to see the extravaganza of creepy decorations. Then Wayne was compelled by the City to take down that year’s Halloween display, telling him to remove his decorations from city-owned trees where he had hooked his cables to hang the mannequins. After doing so he instead hung signs on the property saying “Clifton Politics Cancel Halloween” and “Call the Mayor.”

All of that animosity seems to be in the past now though, and Wayne is back doing what he loves best – creating new displays and provoking reactions from all that encounter them.

This story is an excerpt from Weird NJ magazine, “YourTravel Guide to New Jersey’s Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets,” which is available on newsstands throughout the state and on the web at www.WeirdNJ.com. All contents ©Weird NJ and may not be reproduced by any means without permission.

READ MORE WEIRD NJ CHRISTMAS STORIES HERE.

Visit our SHOP for all of your Weird NJ needs: MagazinesBooksShirtsPatchesHats, Stickers, Magnets, Air Fresheners. Show the world your Jersey pride some of our Jersey-centric goodies. Represent!

 ‌  ‌  ‌

Christmas Vacation with the Griswolds of New Jersey

Most folks know the movie “Christmas Vacation”, the comedy starring Chevy Chase that has become something of a holiday classic since its debut in 1989. The film was the third installment in National Lampoon magazine’s “Vacation” film series, which also featured Beverly D’Angelo and Randy Quaid. In the movie Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase), is determined to have a “fun old-fashioned Christmas” with his entire family…then hilarious mayhem ensues.

In recent years the film has inspired one New Jersey family to create an annual “Christmas Vacation” themed display on the front yard of their Gloucester County

home. It all started with lights, but quickly grew into a full-scale homage of the movie, complete with an RV, a Station Wagon, animatronic mannequins and an enormous Christmas tree. The past couple of years the Harbaugh family, who have become known as the “Griswolds of New Jersey,” have not only replicated the characters from the film in mannequin form, they’ve embodied them themselves, and along with other live actors, recreating scenes from the movie!

The family says they were stunned the first time they realized what a big audience of die-hard “Christmas Vacation” fans they were attracting from not just their own area, but even outside of New Jersey. And they’re amazed by the ever-growing abundance of love and support the display has generated from the community for their annual toy drive. The Harbaughs main

tain an ongoing relationship with the charitably organization Toys For Tots, and through the public’s generous donations they’ve managed to fill their RV to the brim with toys for families in need of a little extra help during the holidays.

Weird NJ spoke with Steve Harbaugh recently to ask him some questions about his extraordinary display.

Weird NJ: Obviously, you’re a big fan of “Christmas Vacation,” Steve, but how did this concept of the tribute display to it all get started?

Steve Harbaugh: It all started with just lots of lights, then we added the rented RV. And we had a ton of traffic. People were coming from as far away as Allentown and Edison. And I said to my wife, ‘This is crazy. Why don’t we make use of it? Wouldn’t it be cool if we were able to fill that RV with toys?’ So, we linked up that year with Toys for Tots, and we filled that RV twice that first year. We got almost 4000 toys.

In the film, Clark covers his house’s exterior with 25,000 twinkle lights, which fail to work at first, as he has accidentally wired them through his garage’s light switch. When they finally come on, they temporarily cause a citywide power shortage. True to form, Steve Harbaugh has an animated mannequin Clark reenacted that very scene.

Your mannequins actually have life-like faces that look just like the characters in the movie. How were those made?

So that was tricky. The first year I had a mannequin, I was taking those mechanical deer that you would buy at Lowe’s or Home Depot and taking the motors out. And I kind of made Eddie (Randy Quaid’s character) just have his hand going up and down. Then I actually went on a Halloween website and I found a guy to make me the heads. He made Clark for me this year where he’s just plugging in the lights.

One of the central features of the display is the RV camper with the figure of Cousin Eddie standing by it in his underwear and a bathrobe drinking a beer. In the film, Clark is standing on the front lawn admiring his lights when his wife’s redneck cousin Eddie arrives unannounced in an RV with their children, Rocky and Ruby Sue, and their Rottweiler dog, Snots. Eddie later admits that they are living in the RV, as he is broke.

The RV and station wagon you have on display look exactly like the Griswold family’s from the movie. Where did you find those?

When we got these diehards Griswold fans down here last year, I went online in search of that 1973 Ford Condor. A guy out in California had two of them, he actually does a similar display. So, he gave it to me at a great price. We painted it to look like the movie. It runs great, I take the kids to school in it. We’ll run around town and we deliver toys with it, we’ll go buy toys in it with the money that we collect.

Last year, I bought the station wagon off of Facebook marketplace from a guy in Wisconsin, 900 bucks, bought it had it shipped out here. But we had to put the contact paper on the sides to simulate the woodgrain.

So where do you store all this stuff when it’s not on display?

Fortunately, I own a storage facility, so I parked vehicles in the back. But the cool thing is the RV has so much room we not only use it for toys during the collecting, we can also store all the lights, the mannequins, all that you see is fits in there.

In one scene of the film, Clark gathers his wife Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo), daughter Audrey, and son Rusty and drives out to the country to find a Christmas tree. After walking through the snow for hours, Clark finds the largest tree he can, then realizes that they didn’t bring any tools to cut it down. So, they uproot the tree and drive home with it strapped to the roof of their car. 

What about the Christmas tree? It’s massive and the roots are still attached! Where did you get that?

That’s a fun story. We went down to the Christmas tree farm to get that huge 22-foot-tall tree with the roots at all. The guy working there got the chainsaw out to go cut it down and I was like, ‘NO, NO, NO! We got to rip that thing out of the ground!’ So, they get a Bobcat over there and they rip it out. When I went this year and they’re like, ‘Oh, he’s back. We know what to do – gotta get the biggest tree, just rip it out of the ground.’

The past couple of years you’ve feature not just mannequins playing the parts of characters from the movie, but also some living re-enactors. Who are these folks?

Mostly family and friends, neighbors who just showed up. I dress as Clark, my wife will get dress up as Ellen. That’s the fun part, it’s goofy, you’re having a great time. And it’s a huge draw. And we have a Cousin Eddie, my buddy Tim Jennings, one of my best friends. I never thought he looked like Eddie, I didn’t see it, you know, because you see him every day. But he came out one night in costume and he was an instant hit.

When the NEWS comes out for live reports we’ll dress up. We’ve done a lot of national things for broadcast. But we can’t do it as much this year because of COVID. We ended up putting up a fence just to keep everybody safe, because we have the two characters Clark and Cousin Eddie out there, and everybody wants their pictures in front so there’s a big line. So, we kind of limited that.

You’re still getting a tremendous amount of donations for you cause though, even in the midst of this pandemic, aren’t you?

And our donations went from 4000 a couple of years ago to 9000 toys last year. Early on I set a goal for this year of about 12,000 toys, and then I thought, you know what? I don’t think there’s any way we’re going to be able to do it just with people not being able to. I have a picture from last year

on December 8, and the RV was full, exactly what it is today. So, we’re like five days ahead of schedule. Which is comforting because Toys For Tots and all these places are down. But more importantly, the demand is higher this year, obviously with COVID. We got 300 toys donated last night, it took me a half hour to bring them all in in the bins and put them in the RV.

That really is inspiring. How do your neighbors feel about all the attention?

Well, I don’t think if it wasn’t for charity, they wouldn’t be as receptive. But they’re awesome, they’ve all been good. Very, very supportive. And you know, I respect them too. We’ve been turning the lights out a little bit earlier this years to kind of keep it at a minimum. We only have eight houses here (on this cul-de-sac), all very close.

So how long does the display stay up? How long can people continue to drop off toys?

Until January 1. Then the toys go to Toys For Tots and the Children’s Hospital in St. Christopher’s hospital. A good portion of the toys go to Kelly’s Kids – Bob Kelly from Fox 29, we linked up with him and his charity. One of biggest places they donate to is St. Christopher’s Hospital in Philadelphia. They need toys all year round.

It’s become such a such a spectacular, where can it possibly go from here? You’ve even had Chevy Chase himself congratulate you on this display and give it his blessing! Is there a next level?

Jersey Devil Rider T-shirt

I’m a perfectionist. So, when you pull up and those big lights out there, I want it to look like you pulled up on a movie set and everything be as accurate as it can be. And it’s for the people, these diehard fans, people that get an RV, to give these diehard fans a good experience. We’re getting people from the Bronx, New York, which is two hours away. I’ve gotten people from Virginia Beach, which is four hours away. Ontario, Canada, which is I don’t know how many hours!

I have people laugh hysterically. I have people cry constantly. They’ll say this was their father’s favorite movie, or somebody who isn’t here anymore, and they’ll just thank me. The number one word is ‘spirit’ out in that front yard. There’s just a Christmas spirit out there. And it shows with all the giving and the toys and it’s fun.

The next level? I’ll give you a little tease. We have a production crew that’s been following me and we’re going to be getting bigger. And it’s definitely going to be expanding from just this toy drive. We’ve got some really, really special things in store. So, stay tuned!

The Griswolds of New Jersey invite you to join them on their journey by visiting their display from now through January 1st. You can check out their upcoming web series to get to know the Harbaugh family and get a behind-the-scenes look at how they put their annual display together. If you’d like to make a donation to Toys For Tots, please use this Amazon link to pick out a toy for kids up to age 12 and send it to the Harbaugh’s address at 503 Legends Court, Mickleton, NJ 08056.

This story is an excerpt from Weird NJ magazine, “YourTravel Guide to New Jersey’s Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets,” which is available on newsstands throughout the state and on the web at www.WeirdNJ.com. All contents ©Weird NJ and may not be reproduced by any means without permission.

READ MORE WEIRD NJ CHRISTMAS STORIES HERE.

Visit our SHOP for all of your Weird NJ needs: MagazinesBooksShirtsPatchesHats, Stickers, Magnets, Air Fresheners. Show the world your Jersey pride some of our Jersey-centric goodies. Represent!

 ‌  ‌  ‌

Ghosts of Christmas Past

Photo by Tracey Consolo

GHOSTS OF CHRISTMAS PAST: Holiday Displays from Days of Yore – Gone But Not Forgotten

A Creepy Claus in God’s Country

Dear Weird NJ:

Recently, while traveling along the White Horse Pike in Atco, I passed this odd looking outdoor market that looked like a haphazard arrangement of trailers, religious statuary and crosses, American flags, and signs proclaiming “GOD IS HERE.” As I slowly drove past, my attention was drawn to a weird display located right at edge of the road. I had to stop at a line of traffic at a red light right beneath the figure, so I had a chance to quickly jump out of my car and take a couple of photos of it on my cell phone.

It was a skinny corpse-like female mannequin in faded and threadbare Santa suit, filthy red fuzzy cap and a ragged white beard. The severely weathered figure leaned to one side and appeared as if it might topple to the roadway if a good wind blew. One of “Santa’s” detached hands rested by his/her feet, which were clad in a pair of black high heal pumps. The figure sat on a deteriorated cane chair perched on small, elevated metal platform, which was suspended from a flagpole.

I was stopped right at the end of the driveway that was the entrance to the compound where a street sign was posted that read “God’s Way.” I was perplexed by the sight, to say the least, but fortunately snapped out of my confusion just as the light change and I was able to catch the name of the complex as I rolled on past a sign that said “James Lombardo’s Business Center.”

I was curious about the place, so when I got home I did a little research on it and discovered that it’s a 13-acre facility that has been operated by a man named James Lombardo for the past 47 years. Billing itself as “God’s Co-Op,” the property seems to be an amalgamation of a used car lot, flea market, and outdoor rummage sale for bicycles, children’s toys and all sort of other stuff.

According to Lombardo’s Facebook page, “God’s Co-op is a non-denominational, honorable workforce for GOD, Country and Humankind. We are a merchandise exchange coalition who buy, sell, trade and take donations for the promotion of God will among GOD’s people. We are all in this together – come.”

There is another post on the page that says, “NEW JERSEY POWER BROKERS HAVE USED LOCAL GOV. SUPER0IR COURT & FEDERAL COURT AND EMINENT DOMAIN! I AM LIVING ONLY BY GOD’S WILL! ALL MY BUSINESS INCOME GOT BLOCKED BY HEATHEN CODES! I AM BLESSED WITH GOD…” I’m not really sure what this is in reference to, but I would have to assume that Mr. Lombardo has perhaps run afoul of local zoning laws at some point. But you can ask Mr. Lombardo about this yourself if you’d like, because according to their web site God’s Co-Op invites people to book the facility for events! –Ann Onymous

100,000 Points of Light in Clifton

Our house is covered literally…leaving an opening for the door with over 100,000 lights and life-sized animated display figures! Most people think it is pretty darn weird! Please stop by and check it out! –Mark Carfora, 76 Arthur Street, Clifton

 Pitman Billboard Says “Keep the Saturn in Saturnalia”

WNJ reader DWS reports that, “In Pitman, a rivalry has been going on since 2011 between religious people who want to “Keep Christ in Christmas” and the Freedom From Religion Foundation who reminds people to ‘Keep Saturn in Saturnalia’. Where lats year the FFRF simply hung a banner at the ‘Welcome to Pitman’ sign, this year they escalated matters by purchasing a billboard at West Holly Avenue and Lambs Road.” Read the FULL STORY…

Sat·ur·na·li·a [sat-er-ney-lee-uh, -neyl-yuh]
1. The festival of Saturn, celebrated in December in ancient Rome as a time of unrestrained merrymaking.
2. Unrestrained revelry; orgy.

This holiday season give that hard-to-shop-for person on your shopping list the gift of weirdness with a 2020 subscription, one of our other unique stocking stuffers.

Visit our SHOP for all of your Weird NJ needs: MagazinesBooksShirtsPatchesHats, Stickers, Magnets, Air Fresheners. Show the world your Jersey pride some of our Jersey-centric goodies! Many items also available through our Web Site or Amazon Store.

Holiday Horrors in Kendall Park

Check out New Road in South Brunswick between Rt. 27 and Rt.1. You already know about the Rocking Horse House at New and Sturgis Rd, but if you pass it going towards Rt. 1 there is something even stranger. The second house past the fire station on the right is 141 New Rd. They have a sick Christmas display – skeletons and other grotesque figures dressed in Santa costumes! I caught sight of a sign but only read the word “Haunted” before I passed. It is definitely a Christmas display, not Halloween.  –Lisa Burns

Tom and Carolyn Dardani sure know how to dress up the home for the holidays. And why not? Their home in Monmouth Junction is known affectionately as “The Halloween House.” The Dardanis run the annual Dardani Haunted Trail in nearby Woodlot Park. The event is run by over 200 volunteers during the Halloween season. This is a picture of a display the Dardanis did a few years ago. Who knows what will be lurking on their lawn this holiday!

Away in a Manger in Belleville

This holiday season don’t forget to stop by Charlie Auriemma’s Christmas display on Mt. Prospect St. in Belleville. Charlie, an electrical contractor by trade, decorates his side yard each year with a manger scene complete with live sheep, calves, and even a camel. There is also a Santa’s workshop where robotic elves toil away powered by an electrical on/off switch that you control!

For your “Gone But Not Forgotten” Holiday story, please don’t forget The Garden State Plaza, Paramus, Santa and his chimney! He was the sign of Christmas to come at the Garden State Plaza for years. –Robert Seth Vorisek

This holiday season give that hard-to-shop-for person on your shopping list the gift of weirdness with a 2020 subscription, or any of our other great stocking stuffers. All available through our Web Site or Amazon Store.

Still Dreaming of a Pink Christmas in Metuchen

Gracie Knox, the “Pink Lady of Metuchen” has been enjoying her pink paradise for over 70 years. Weird NJ visited Ms. Knox Gracie she invited us into her century-old home, where we sat ensconced in pink pile carpet and pink plastic-covered furniture. On that day she was preparing her outfit and convertible Cadillac El Dorado (one of her two luxury pink and white rides) for the town’s annual Memorial Day parade. Christmas is the time when Gracie’s Sheridan Road estate really shines though—shiny pink, of course! Gracie died in 2009 and her house was torn down a few years ago.

Mahwah, Where You’ll Never Have a Blue Christmas

This is one site everyone will have to check out. A fellow in Mahwah who makes his living as an Elvis impersonator puts on an of a Christmas House. It is rumored that so much energy is used for his Christmas lights (which cover every square inch of available horizontal and vertical space) that he has worked out a special deal with PSE&G.

The seasonal light display has become so popular that local cops are now posted in the area to direct traffic in and out of the complex where he lives, which is modeled after Graceland. Needless to say, the light display is orchestrated by recordings of elvis singing Christmas carols.

Neighbors attempting to keep up with him have tried their own garish displays but have not managed to outshine him. His display is unmistakably the loudest, in every respect.  –Jennifer Watts

Very close to Franklin Lakes, this house is on Victoria Lane off Campgaw Road in Mahwah.  We’ve been going there for at least ten years.  I understand his bill is over $2000. On some nights the Mahwah Fire Department collects donations simply by holding their helmets out to the line of slow passing cars. –RL Dean

There is a house in Mahwah, on the corner of Victoria Lane and Garden Court (off of Campgaw Road), that goes all out every Christmas. The house and property is covered in lights and there are also several lifesize figures on the roof––including Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe.  There is a constant caravan of cars driving through the neighborhood between Christmas and New Years…. stopping to snap pictures and catch a glimpse of this weird winter wonderland. –John Arehart

Elvis Has Left the Lights Off

The “Elvis” house has not been lit up for the last 2 years. I drove down Victoria Lane in Mahwah last Friday and the entire street had no decorated houses. I guess the recession has hit hard on that neighborhood too. –Teepag

Visit our SHOP for all of your Weird NJ needs: MagazinesBooksShirtsPatchesHats, Stickers, Magnets, Air Fresheners. Show the world your Jersey pride some of our Jersey-centric goodies. Represent!

The Robot Elves & Giant Claus of the Fountains of Wayne

Dear Weird NJ: I’ve been visiting Totowa on business about once a month since August. While there last week I saw something that was really weird to me. I stopped at the Fountains of Wayne aka Christmas Emporium on Route 46 for something to do on my lunch hour. As I was shopping, I saw that they had a Christmas Animitronics Display upstairs. Of course, I had to go up and take a peek.

They have various vignettes set up such as Santa’s Pizzeria, Santa at the Jersey Shore, Santa in the Rain Forest, etc. The display looks like it was set up in the 50’s and has never been changed. Each vignette is full of the animated dolls that are all moving in the same hypnotic way. They look like they are possessed and were truly creepy. You really need to see it. Then when I told someone about it, they told me to go up 46 to Fairfield Gardens and see the Ice Caverns. Off I went. This one was a bit newer, but there was one Santa that looked like a blow up sex doll. –Vivaletta

READ MORE WEIRD NJ CHRISTMAS STORIES HERE.

Do you have a story of a weird holiday display that you’d like to share? If you do then please e-mail us at: Editor@WeirdNJ.com

Visit our SHOP for all of your Weird NJ needs: MagazinesBooksShirtsPatchesHats, Stickers, Magnets, Air Fresheners. Show the world your Jersey pride some of our Jersey-centric goodies. Represent!

 ‌  ‌  ‌

Grayscale says SEC broke the law by rejecting Bitcoin spot ETF applications

Grayscale has written a letter to the SEC in which it argues that the agency is breaking the law by discriminating against Bitcoin spot ETFs while approving futures ETFs.
The letter comes three weeks before the day that the SEC is expected to give its verdict on a Bitcoin spot ETF application by Grayscale.

After several rejections under Jay Clayton, the SEC finally approved a Bitcoin futures ETF this year under the new head, Gary Gensler. Curiously, it’s still adamant against a spot ETF, and Grayscale believes this could be a violation of a law that governs how federal agencies make their decisions.

The SEC has approved three Bitcoin ETFs this year, from Valkyrie, ProShares and VanEck. The ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF (ticker symbol BITO) was the first to be approved, and it was an instant success. It amassed $1 billion in assets under management in 2 days, a record in the U.S market. All three approved ETFs, however, are futures ETFs. The SEC has rejected all spot ETF applications, the latest being from VanEck in November.

Read More: ProShares Bitcoin ETF registers record trading volumes on debut, BTC price crosses $64,000

A futures ETF allows investors to speculate on the future price of an asset, in this case, Bitcoin through derivatives. A spot ETF, on the other hand, allows investors to trade on the current price of an asset. This makes it similar to holding this asset at any particular time.

Last night our attorneys at Davis Polk sent a letter to the SEC arguing that approval of #Bitcoin futures-based ETFs, but not #Bitcoin spot-based ETFs, like $GBTC, is “arbitrary and capricious,” and therefore in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).

— Craig Salm (@CraigSalm) November 30, 2021

Grayscale: SEC is violating the law by rejecting Bitcoin spot ETFs

Grayscale is taking an issue with this seeming discrimination against one product and the approval of a similar product. In a letter by Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, the law firm representing the company, Grayscale argued that the SEC is playing favorites by allowing one and not the other. The agency is subjecting spot ETFs to “a different, vague and evidently impossible-to-meet standard.”

Doing so not only would be fundamentally unfair to BTC and its shareholders, but would violate the Section 6(b)(5) injunction against unfair discrimination among issuers, and constitute arbitrary and capricious administrative action in violation of the APA [Administrative Procedures Act].

The APA governs the process by which federal agencies, like the SEC, develop and issue regulations. It also applies to the issuance of policy statements, licenses and permits.

The SEC has based its rejections on the fine difference between the laws that apply to spot and futures ETFs. The two are governed primarily by the Securities Act of 1933 (’33 Act), but the latter has the additional oversight of the Company Act of 1940 (’40 Act). Gensler, in particular, has made it clear that this extra oversight is a key reason he approved one and not the other.

However, as Grayscale observes, the ’40 Act only applies to the issuer of the ETF, allowing the SEC to directly oversee the management of the product. But in rejecting the spot ETFs, the SEC has never cited the ability to oversee the issuers as the reason for the rejection. Rather, it has claimed it was because the cryptocurrency market is prone to manipulation.

Craig Salm, Grayscale’s Head of Legal further broke down the SEC’s mixed signals in a blog post.

Regarding the claim that the ‘40 Act has increased investor protections, I’d highlight that this law does not address fraud or manipulation in the assets or markets of assets that ETFs hold. […] The ‘40 Act even explicitly lists out the types of abuses it seeks to prevent, and places certain restrictions on ETFs related to accounting, borrowing, custody, fees, and independent boards, among others.

“SEC’s manipulation claims are baseless”

Craig also attacked the SEC’s manipulation claims. The agency claims that Bitcoin spot ETFs would be prone to manipulation, but yet approve futures ETFs that track the exact same underlying asset.

All the three approved Bitcoin ETFs hold futures contracts that trade on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), a marketplace regulated by the federal government. This, however, is not an argument against spot ETFs, Grayscale argues. After all, the spot ETFs that the SEC has rejected, all intend to track CME’s indexes and thus would trade at par with the futures ETFs.

If spot ETFs can be manipulated, then “someone could, in theory, manipulate bitcoin on a spot exchange and have it impact the regulated CME Bitcoin Futures and, therefore, the futures-based ETF too. (Again, assuming you believe fraud or manipulation exists in the first place),” Craig pointed out.

The lawyer concluded:

As it stands, the Bitcoin ETF landscape is unfair and discriminatory against GBTC shareholders and all of the other U.S. investors looking for an accessible and efficient way to gain their Bitcoin exposure.

Grayscale’s bold move to attack the SEC comes just three weeks before the agency reveals its decision regarding Grayscale’s Bitcoin spot ETF application. SEC earlier this year asked for public feedback on the ETF proposal and it’s expected to give its verdict on December 24. However, it would come as no surprise if the agency decided to extend the deadline, something it has done a lot of times in the past.

Grayscale, which holds about $37 billion in its GBTC Bitcoin trust, is making a risky move going against the regulator. Coinbase did this a few months ago, criticizing the SEC for cracking down on its Coinbase Lend product. However, just a few days later, the exchange mysteriously folded its plans and claimed to be working with the regulator.

Der Beitrag Grayscale says SEC broke the law by rejecting Bitcoin spot ETF applications erschien zuerst auf Crypto News Flash.

Algorand secures $500M funding from Borderless Capital to support “next gen” DeFi and NFT projects

Algorand has acquired half a billion dollars from VC Borderless Capital to power the “next generation” of DeFi and NFT projects on the network.
The ALGO token is up 481.5 percent this year despite failing to re-achieve its all-time high of 2 years ago.

Algorand (ALGO) has received a $500 million fund from venture capitalist Borderless Capital to back its projects.

Based on a Nov. 30 announcement from the Miami-based company, the Borderless ALGO Fund II will back Algorand network projects. These are expected to power the “next generation” of decentralization applications (DApps) on the blockchain.

Specifically, Borderless Capital looks to support the booming non-fungible token (NFT) and decentralized finance (DeFi) projects. NFTs, the firm notes, allow it to “disrupt the creators’ economy” as it bolsters funding into Algorand’s DeFi ecosystem.

We are excited to announce the launch of our $500M Borderless ALGO Fund II!https://t.co/EP0U6Ib8HV pic.twitter.com/okXf6GBFo8

— Borderless Capital (@borderless_cap) November 30, 2021

Just a few days ago, Algorand gained another technology partner in Hivemind Capital Partners. Former Citi executive, Matt Zhang, introduced the $1.5 billion crypto investment vehicle on Nov. 29, alongside its very first partner, Algorand. The multi-strategy fund will back promising crypto projects including virtual worlds, infrastructure projects and programmable money.

Algorand achievements

Launched in mid-2019, Algorand comprises an open-source decentralized blockchain developed by computer scientist Silvio Micali. It focuses on delivering speed, security and stability. Growth of the Algorand network this year has placed it in the category of strong Ethereum competitors. Even PayPal is considering using it to scale its payments technology. Arul Murugan, the founding managing partner at Borderless Capital stated;

Algorand is the most efficient next-generation blockchain software in the market right now, and it is the next frontier for investment opportunities and disruption,

The latest funding from Borderless Capital adds to the $400 million that the company currently manages in Algorand. Even more, the firm contributed $10 million to PlanetWatch, a decentralized air liquidity monitoring network based on the Algorand blockchain.

In addition, Algorand launched its virtual machine (AVM) in September to deliver negative carbon output. The upgrade would also enhance scalability and instant transaction finality on the network.

According to DeFi Llama, Algorand is currently the 36th largest blockchain in terms of $97.4 million total value locked (TVL) in DeFi. The lead project on Algorand is Yieldly (YLDY), a DeFi platform offering a suite of DeFi apps, with a TVL of $68.4 million.

ALGO price action

Based on our data, ALGO has gained 7.3 percent in the day to trade at $1.90 at writing time. The asset has also gained 481.5 percent in the last year. ALGO’s all-time high was over two years ago, when it briefly topped $3.50 in June 2019. Soon after, the asset fell below the $1 mark. With developments and increased coverage of the network, the token might just take flight towards its record high and beyond.

Der Beitrag Algorand secures $500M funding from Borderless Capital to support “next gen” DeFi and NFT projects erschien zuerst auf Crypto News Flash.