DEADWOOD | After being banned from town for more than two decades, mystics, psychics and soothsayers still may not be welcome in this Northern Hills community.
At the request of the Deadwood Chamber & Visitor Bureau, the Deadwood City Commission Tuesday night discussed repealing an ordinance that prohibits fortune tellers, clairvoyants and other mediums from setting up shop.
For the Deadwood Chamber, the prohibition is preventing it from marketing mystical events that could increase non-gaming visitation and expand the town’s offerings.
“I think we have a lot of hauntings in Deadwood that people would be interested in,” said chamber events coordinator Sarah Anderson. “Visitors are drawn to mystery. They’re just naturally curious. This is an opportunity to explore other options for our visitors.”
Anderson noted that two nationally syndicated television shows had featured the purportedly haunted Bullock Hotel and Fairmont Hotel and its Oyster Bay Bar in recent years.
She said the chamber would like to consider offering ghost tours and other special events, such as psychic fairs.
“How awesome would it be to bring in somebody like John Edwards, a recognized professional medium who has made presentations all over the world?” Anderson asked. “This ordinance would stop that type of presentation.”
The local ministerial association, however, apparently doesn't consider it awesome at all.
Commissioners Georgeann Silvernail and Jim VanDenEykl said they each had been contacted by representatives of the ministerial association this week who were adamantly opposed to repealing the ordinance.
“They feel this ordinance was set for a very good reason,” Silvernail said, adding she believed repealing the measure might “open the doors” to questionable activities.
“Give an inch, they take a mile, and I’ve seen it happen before,” she said.
“What is unholy about a ghost tour?” a dumb-founded Mayor Chuck Turbiville asked, calling the prohibition an “antiquated ordinance.”
“I don’t see this as having any harm to the religious community,” he said.
But local resident Ardene Lance said she opposed repealing the ordinance, arguing such activities were not family-friendly.
“I do oppose something like this, because I wouldn’t bring families to something like this,” Lance said. “Fortune tellers or psychics … I don’t want someone in my family to go down this path. I think another path should be taken and that should be in the religious realm.
“What are we leaving for our children?” Lance asked the commission. “Ouija boards and something like that, I don’t think that is the answer.”
Following 15 minutes of discussion and with Silvernail the lone dissenter, the commission voted 4-1 to hold a public hearing on the proposal on Feb. 3. Mayor Turbiville said a representative of the ministerial association would be asked to offer comments.