Documentary Reveals Secrets Behind Halloween Legend

Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Award-winning filmmaker Zac Adams is ready to unveil his documentary on the famous goblin Tall Betsy.
Award-winning filmmaker Zac Adams is ready to unveil his documentary on the famous goblin Tall Betsy.

A documentary about the famous Tall Betsy goblin will premiere exclusively on WRCB, Channel 3, on Sunday at 1 p.m. 

Award-winning filmmaker Zac Adams made the announcement this week. Earlier this year, Mr. Adams revealed that the documentary had won a prestigious Telly Award. The national Telly awards honor the best local, regional and cable television programs. 

Mr. Adams, owner of Nashville-based Skydive Films, visited Cleveland in 2011 to interview entrepreneur and philanthropist Allan Jones, the creator of the Tall Betsy character.

Mr. Adams also interviewed Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland and others who had firsthand knowledge of Tall Betsy. 

Mr. Jones, the pioneer of the payday loan industry who founded Cleveland-based Check Into Cash, created the modern Tall Betsy character more than 30 years ago. 

Mr. Jones’ mother, Gincy, as well as his grandmother, Marie Slaughter, told him stories of a Tall Betsy goblin during his Cleveland childhood. Mr. Jones’ version of the goblin resides in Fort Hill Cemetery and stands more than seven feet tall.

“Allan gave our team access to a wealth of never-seen-before photos and videos,” Mr. Adams said. “There are things in this film that will surprise people, including the real reason why Tall Betsy suddenly vanished with no explanation. The answer will surprise you.” 

Tall Betsy began appearing at Mr. Jones’ home — then located on Centenary Avenue — in 1980. Once word of the “gruesome girlie” spread, many of Mr. Jones’ neighbors began decorating their homes as a tribute to the goblin and a poem was created called “The Legend of Tall Betsy.” 

The goblin became so popular that in 1986, MainStreet Cleveland — the city’s downtown revitalization group — organized the Halloween Block Party that included games, costume contests and treats.

The state of Tennessee named Tall Betsy “The Official Halloween Goblin of Bradley County” on May 24, 1989.  

Mr. Jones said the Tall Betsy legend eventually spread outside of Cleveland and became such an event that in 1993 his family took an official count of how many people came to their house. 

“From 5-8 p.m., we handed out exactly 11,201 pieces of bubblegum,” Mr. Jones revealed. “We believe that was a record for a single home on Halloween night.” 

Tall Betsy retired in 1998 after drawing a Halloween Block Party crowd of 25,000. The Block Party was dedicated in honor of Tall Betsy’s 25th anniversary in 2005.  

Prior to his Tall Betsy documentary, Mr. Adams created “The Bell Witch Legend” film, a documentary that investigated the world-famous 19th century haunting of a Tennessee family. The Bell Witch documentary will air on Sunday directly following Tall Betsy. 

The Tall Betsy documentary is narrated by Lynn Hoffman, host of A&E’s “Private Sessions.” 

“It is time for the public to finally know the truth about who Tall Besty was and why she came to such a sudden end,” Mr. Adams said. “Tune in on Sunday – you won’t forget it.” 


In this rare photo, Tall Betsy wows young trick-or-treaters with tales of Halloweens past.
In this rare photo, Tall Betsy wows young trick-or-treaters with tales of Halloweens past.

Whitfield Cert Adds 10 New Members After Emergency Response Training

A father-son duo and a husband-wife team were among the 10 people who completed Whitfield County’s Academy 11 CERT training on Nov. 8-9.  The 10 new Community Emergency Response Team members increase the total to 208 men and women who have completed the emergency training since classes began here in 2010.   The graduates, who completed the intensive training ... (click for more)

The Salvation Army Of Greater Chattanooga Expecting To Feed More Than 1,000 Hungry Neighbors This Week

The Salvation Army, with the help of dozens of volunteers, hosted the 5th Annual Thanksgiving Eve Community Festival Wednesday, from noon–2 p.m. at 800 McCallie Ave. Over 200 were served by 50 plus volunteers. The Salvation Army will also be delivering meals to over 600 homebound neighbors Thursday, on Thanksgiving Day.   Volunteers will arrive at 9 a.m. to begin deliveries ... (click for more)

1 Dies, 1 Critically Injured In North Chattanooga House Fire

For the second time in three days, a house fire has resulted in tragedy with a 35-year-old woman dying and a man critically injured in North Chattanooga. At 10:13 a.m. on Wednesday, Chattanooga firefighters were dispatched to a reported house fire with entrapment at 220 Houser St. The first firefighters on the scene saw flames shooting out windows and part of the roof. Having ... (click for more)

Appeal Dropped In $25 Million Lawsuit Filed Against Hennen's Restaurant By Lisa Barnes

An appeal has been dropped of a Circuit Court jury verdict that found Hennen's Restaurant not at fault in a $25 million lawsuit brought by Lisa Barnes. Circuit Court officials said the appeal was "voluntarily" dropped. It had been set to be reviewed by the Tennessee Court of Appeals. The verdict in the courtroom of Judge Neil Thomas in early February came at the end of ... (click for more)

Lawlessness At Heritage Park

As a frequent visitor at Heritage Park in East Brainerd, I must say that the situation is becoming slightly out of control.  To start, parking is atrocious.  The unpaved lot contains nothing but loose gravel which has naturally given way to divots in the ground assuring you a few bumps.  Why isn't this area smoothed out?  It's not worth parking there anyways ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Why I Am Thankful 2014

Over 40 years ago I was a young sports writer when I came up with the notion of setting daily things aside, just for one day, and writing about why “I Am Thankful.” Every Thanksgiving I come up with my list and it is as much about me as it is about my gratitude for all things great and small. I can’t imagine approaching this day in any other way. Here we go … I AM THANKFUL for ... (click for more)