Tested by the Spirit of Christmas

I met Shelley Mordini in her haunted office. Details about the building formerly owned by the Ringling brothers appear at the end of this column. I was in a holiday mood and excited to hear Shelley tell the story I call, “Tested by the Spirit of Christmas.”

Shelley’s acquaintance, Corey Hartman, remembers the ghost of the young woman every Christmas Eve. At the time, Corey owned the Baraboo radio station, Max FM. On Christmas Eve that year, a gentle snow fell. Corey stood outside on this chilly night and soaked in the Norman Rockwell details. He took panoramic photos of the beauty of downtown. Very few people were around so Corey was surprised when he felt a presence on his right side. He turned to look.

A young woman, maybe in her twenties, stood close to him. She only wore a t-shirt, jeans, and flip-flops. She said that she was supposed to meet someone downtown but her phone had died and she needed a charger.

Corey was skeptical and debated about helping her, but compassion won out. He explained that he owned the radio station and he would help her. Once there, he found a charger, gave her a blanket, made her hot chocolate, and offered her cookies. While the phone charged, he slipped off to call his wife. After telling her the story, she suggested he call the police chief so he did. The police let him know they could offer the young woman vouchers for food and a motel room.

Corey rejoined the woman and explained that if her friend didn’t show up, there was a plan B. He said he had another half-hour of work to do, and then they could make a decision.

A short while later, Corey heard the crinkling of a wrapper. And then silence. When he reentered the room, the girl was gone. She’d tidied up, including folding the blanket. He examined the room’s exit which included a door that pushed outward. The snow outside the door was undisturbed. There wasn’t a single footprint. She had simply vanished. 

After I had a moment to reflect on this amazing story, I asked Shelley about her first ghostly experience. She explained she was preparing for a tour at the Old Baraboo Inn, 135 Walnut St. She heard a newborn baby crying so she hurriedly got organized and went into the bar to see the baby. “Where’s the baby?’ 

“There’s no baby.”

“Has there been a baby here?”


“But I heard a baby.”

About a week later, Shelley was at the historic inn again. A young girl, maybe seven or eight years old, asked if she could go play with the kids. 

Shelley said sure, but she didn’t see any other kids.

The girl went up to the stage area. Shelley heard her talking to someone. The girl stretched out her arms as if someone was across from her. She spun around like kids do when they twirl with a friend. The parents watched as well. The girl was leaning back and her hair was whipping away from her face. Faster and faster. Shelley and the girls’ parents were astounded. They asked who she was playing with.

“Oh, it’s a little boy. He won’t tell me his name. He lives here.” The girl kept spinning for a minute or two more and then announced that the boy had to go. 

The adults were relieved.

Shelley Mordini is a wonderful storyteller. I hope you check out her Baraboo tours (both historic and ghost tours) and travel excursions detailed at barabootours.com. Pick up one of her area scavenger hunts. She’s currently coauthoring “Haunted Portage” and she’s seeking well-documented ghost stories for that area.

If you’d like to read more stories such as the one detailing Shelley’s office ghost, check out “Wright Building” in Haunted Baraboo by Shelley Mordini and Gwen Herrewig.

I suspect this holiday season, I’ll be haunted by the story of the cold young woman wearing only flip-flops with nowhere to shelter from the cold. Chances are I’ll encounter people such as her. I hope when I’m challenged by the spirit of Christmas, I pass the test.

6 Replies to “Tested by the Spirit of Christmas”

Now these are the kind of ghost stories I LIKE. 🙂

Hi Gayle,
Yes, I like ghost stories that touch my heart. Thanks for reading.

Jane Govoni

Isn’t there stories about Christmas guests [Angels] appearing and they are tests to see if we are always generous? I think maybe these stories are all year long. A great story


Hi Jane,
Angels appearing as tests does sound familiar, but if I’m wrong, it would make a great story. You or I should write it. 🙂


I love stories like this Amy. I believe those angels appear to those they feel have the spirit within.
Merry Christmas!

Hi Deb,
I find events such as the Christmas ghost fascinating.
Marion once told me an “after death” story about a relative of hers who was dying. His comments made it clear that he was heading to a wondrous place.
Enjoy the season,

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