A haunting in the theater: Christopher


Molly O’Connor/Winonan

Winona State University is known to possess several haunted buildings spread out between Main Campus and West Campus.

The famous ghosts of Lourdes Hall on west and the ghost of Richards Hall on main are the more popular ghost tales in Winona State’s history.

However, slightly less known is the alleged haunting of the Performing Arts Center by a ghost named Christopher.

The tale of how Christopher came to haunt the Performing Arts Center has been passed down through spoken word and firsthand experiences of strange phenomena occurring in the building for decades.

According to legend, in October of 1973, a student by the name of Christopher Robb Neidringhaus, known to his classmates as Christopher Robin, was found unconscious on the floor of the Main Stage after falling from one of the fly galleries.

The next day, he was pronounced dead due to internal bleeding.

Since the discovery of his body and his death, the area of the stage where the body was lying has been said to be immune to water damage, and the theater itself has been experiencing strange phenomena.

Jim Danneker, the head theater technician, said that Christopher is believed to fiddle with lights and students have claimed they hear faint mysterious voices over the radio system that do not belong to anyone in the department.

Danneker, however, has his doubts that the Performing Arts Center is haunted.

“I’ve left sets half-finished and come back the next day and nothing has been disturbed,” Danneker said. “He’s not mischievous, he’s not dangerous, if he in fact exists.”

Danneker believes that the rumors of Christopher are the result of a snowball effect, originating with former professor Jacque Reidelberger, who dedicated a page of the theatre and dance department handbook to the history of the phenomena experienced after Christopher’s death.

“If a professor blames a mysterious occurrence on an unknown entity, especially around a student, that student is going to leave and go tell that to a friend, and a rumor of a ghost is made,” Danneker said.

The section of the handbook regarding the Performing Arts Center ghost states that at the request of his parents, the incident was never investigated or the cause pursued, but that “‘happenings’ began the following year.”

Perhaps the strangest part of the legend: crew members running a performance have been known to leave Christopher a small souvenir before a show, candy, to keep him satisfied. Chocolate bars or small Hershey kisses or the like have been left for Christopher’s convenience at the end of the night.

Whether the candy is ever taken by a paranormal entity remains unknown.

Contact Molly at [email protected]