Dead Children’s Playground
The Maple Hill Cemetery in Huntsville, Alabama contains a playground which was initially intended to be a place for children to go while their parents visited graves of loved ones, but which has been the locus for many stories of hauntings leading to its being dubbed “Dead Children’s Playground.” Some say it is the spirits of children buried in the playground who are revisiting the games of their youth. Others speculate it may be connected specifically to murders. The stories have been reported since the 20th century, even though the cemetery was established in 1822. Stories include swings moving by themselves, childrens’ laughter when no one is present in the playground, orbs of light captured on camera, and even ghosts sighted. Making the story even weirder, most of these occurrences are reported between 10pm and 3am, notoriously too late for children to be out on a playground by themselves, even if they were visible.
INFORMANT: Like many hauntings and ghost stories, the informants who have claimed to see supernatural occurrences at the Maple Hill Cemetery playground are largely anecdotal and anonymous; most sources conveniently omit needing to attribute the stories to anyone, instead using the passive voice or “they say.” However, local folklore has certainly cemented this playground in the imagination of Huntsville’s citizens, and ghost-hunting websites frequently make reference to people visiting it in hope of documenting the children.
ANALYSIS: Due to the location of this playground within the limits of a cemetery, it’s not particularly unusual that a legend of dead children has developed around it. Stories of the swings moving on their own are the most frequently referenced, but this could easily be dismissed as the wind moving the swings or some type of imbalance with the equipment which has been picked up and embellished by storytellers. Similarly, as most of the sightings occur between 10pm and 3am, which is an unnatural time to be in a cemetery anyway (and emphasized by the constant cultural admonition against entering cemeteries at night) it is likely that these sightings of lights and/or hearing what sounds like children playing are the tricks of the mind common to anyone entering a cemetery at night and expecting to be spooked.