“Truth is stranger than fiction” was first coined by Lord Byron in the poem Don Juan. So is the case in the heart of Dixie, where a graveyard and a playground coexist. Founded only one year prior than the satirical poem penned by Byron, the Maple Hill Cemetery is the oldest and largest final resting place in the state of Alabama. Among its 100 acres of tombstones is a lovely – but eerie – group of swing sets encapsulated on three sides by rocky cliffs. The public has access to the swings during normal visiting hours, but after dark they are reserved for Huntsville’s permanently prepubescent ghostly residents.
It is a common occurrence for the swings move by themselves and in sync with one another. Some late night visitors have seen sand shooting up from the ground as if someone jumped off the swing. Giggles and innocent chatter radiate from the area, according to eyewitness accounts.
Activity in the area, some say, is attributed to events decades before. In addition to its regular cast of creepy crumb crunchers, the 1960s brought unforeseen doom and gloom. Several child abductions led to a dispersion of bodies throughout the site.
Fast forward to 2007 when the local town government took it upon themselves to make room for more markers. The playground equipment was removed overnight. That is, until voters admonished the council and had them install new swings in the playground/graveyard.
Twelve months later, the Alabama Paranormal Society investigated DCP. The search came up empty handed, other than the voice of a woman and child. A snapshot captured a blurry image of a woman surrounded by several orbs of light. Sometimes children are ignored or not taken seriously. This is quite the opposite in Huntsville. Children, both dead and alive, will always have a place to rest and play. In the middle of 100 acres, encapsulated on three sides by rocky cliffs, swing sets are swinging and spirits are lingering. The children are playing.