Local Ghostbusters chapter welcomes young member, expands community reach

May 27, 2024 | 12:09 am

Updated May 27, 2024 | 8:09 am

Donald Hayes has been fascinated with the Ghostbusters for as long as he can remember. He and his like-minded team joined 15-year-old Kenneth James, a fanatic, for a photo shoot and official induction ceremony on the riverfront last week. 

In 2022, Hayes joined forces with Chris Hedges to form a local Ghostbusters International franchise dedicated to giving back to the community. The organization boasts thousands of chapters worldwide. 

“I met Chris seven years ago on Halloween during Trail of Treats,” Hayes said. “I saw his pack light from three blocks away and stepped away from the family to find the guy in the Ghostbusters suit.”

After hanging out and sharing their passion for Ghostbusters, they decided to form their own group. They dressed up for one of the movie releases and met more fans, expanding their team of ghost hunters over the last two years. 

The local Ghostbusters volunteered at the Imagination Library’s Storybook Picnic at Moreland Park earlier this month. That’s where they encountered James. 

“He was a huge fan, and we knew we had to make him a member of the group,” Hayes said.  

James’s mother, Daletta Markle, said James first saw the film at the Holiday Drive-Inn and has been hooked ever since. So, he was pleasantly surprised when he encountered the Ghostbusters team at the picnic. 

“My favorite was the Ghostbusters van,” James said. “They gave me a name badge too.”

James is a sophomore at South Spencer High School, where his fellow students and teachers are well aware of the fandom. Markle said the school often plays the Ghostbusters theme song at school dances just for James and his friends.”

“Those guys were awesome for doing that,” Markle said. “Kenneth was ecstatic when he turned around and saw the Ghostbusters. He had a great time taking pictures and sitting in the Ectomobile.”

Hayes said the local chapter is working towards earning nonprofit status so it can increase its efforts. And while the group always appreciates an opportunity to “suit up,” their ultimate goal is to make people smile. 

Beyond that, they actively participate in the local Christmas parade, volunteer at local schools, and host an annual costume drive at Halloween for underserved children. While shopping for costumes, the cashier took note of their Ghostbuster suits and informed them that her dad was a fellow fanatic – which led to another member. 

“We started hosting the costume drive, primarily for kids in need,” Haynes said. “I know when I was growing up, putting us in a costume was the last thing on my dad’s mind. We want to alleviate that stress and burden for families.”

The team has a custom Ghostbusters-branded Jeep and is always looking for opportunities to serve the community. Click here to follow the Ghostbusters of Daviess County on Facebook. 

“We want to expand our ranks and make the costume drive bigger and better,” Hayes said. “Our goal is to put a costume on over 100 kids this fall. We hope to have our nonprofit status soon.”

May 27, 2024 | 12:09 am

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