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Lair of the Beasts: A New York Monster
The Creature of the Park
By Nick Redfern
November 07, 2009
A view of New York's Central Park
© Nick Redfern
For the most part, the overwhelming majority of all reports, stories, accounts and tales I receive of strange beasts roaming the United States tend to be relatively down-to-earth – or at least as down-to-earth as it’s possible to be when dealing with accounts relative to Bigfoot, lake-monsters, werewolves and a truly wide and varied assortment of other creepy critters.
Sasquatch, for example, is generally reported from within the deep woods and eerie forests of the Pacific north-west; lake-monsters generally surface from within the murky depths of some of the United States’ larger bodies of water; and as for werewolves: well, for some reason, there are a huge amount of reports from the dense woodland and plains of rural Wisconsin. In other words, in those places that are very much dominated by long stretches of wilderness, forests and deep lakes, strange creatures absolutely proliferate.
But, what do you do when someone earnestly tells you they have seen a distinctly weird creature roaming around the fringes of New York’s Central Park? Well, you try and listen very carefully to what the witness has to say, and you do your best to try and come to some meaningful conclusion – which is what I attempted to do when, a few months back, I was on the receiving end of an email from a man named Barry, who claimed to have seen a very strange beast in the park, itself, back in 1997.
Of course, the date of the case meant that the trail had long since gone cold – and I do mean that quite literally, too. But, that didn’t stop me from at least taking the time to sit down with the witness while he was on a managerial training-course in Waco, Texas (which is only a relatively short drive from my Dallas home) last month.
Barry’s story was certainly one of the weirdest I have ever heard; however, I learned a long time ago that the world of cryptozoology and monster-hunting can be a very strange and surreal one, and, for that reason, I always try and give everyone a fair hearing – which is precisely what I did with Barry.
An assistant-manager at a certain hotel that overlooks the park, Barry told me that on the day in question – which was a sunny weekday in either June or July 1997 – he was strolling through the park, while on his lunch-break from his then-job as a store-worker.
All was utterly normal until, as he approached one particularly tree- and bush-shrouded area, he was shocked to the core when, out of nowhere, an unknown animal burst wildly through the foliage.
Barry claimed to me that the creature was man-like in shape and covered in hair of a distinctly rusty color – but, unlike the towering Bigfoot of the west-coast, was little more than three-feet in height. Little-Foot might have been a far better term to use, I mused, as I listened to the very odd tale.
Barry could only watch with a mixture of shock and awe as the diminutive man-beast charged across the path in front of him at a distance of no more than about twenty feet, came to a screeching halt for a couple of seconds to stare intently into his eyes, and then headed off at high speed again, before finally vanishing: beneath a small bridge inside the perimeter of the park, no less.
Barry was clearly very embarrassed about discussing his sighting – even twelve years later. And, as a person who was clearly intelligent, coherent and presentable, he acutely realized how strange his story sounded, too. I had to agree; however, I also had to realize that Barry had absolutely nothing to gain at all by relating the details of his experience of the highly unusual kind.
I asked Barry to relate the details for me again. He did so, and I carefully took notes, ensuring that we finally had every aspect of the story accounted for. He admitted that the facts were scant; aside from his unswerving position that for a few, brief moments in the summer of 1997 he saw a small, hairy, man-like beast scurrying across the grass of Central Park.
As I admitted to Barry, there was really very little that I could do; aside from carefully logging the details of the tale in my data-base, and seeing if anything else of a similar nature ever surfaced. Unsurprisingly, it most assuredly has not, so far. Barry’s was just one of those very odd, fringe cases that seem to really perplex from time to time those of us who dare to dig into the world of monsters and strange creatures.
Nick Redfern is the author of many books on the paranormal. His new book, Contactees, is published by New Page Books in December 2009.