In some fun news coming from Florida, Stephen Wittmaak, the leader of a St. Petersburg based Ghostbusters fan group, has turned his family’s Kia Soul into an Ecto-1 or an Ectomobile, the vehicle from the movie franchise. His wife Stephanie sometimes even forgets that they are traveling in such a unique vehicle. She says this about the weird experience.
“They’ll beep and I will wonder if we are in their way. They’ll wave and I’ll wonder if we know them. Then I remember, ‘Oh yeah, we’re in an Ecto-1.'”
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Wittmaak runs a Ghostbusters fan group called Lost Spirits Division. There are many other fan groups like Wittmaak’s in Florida. These groups aim to help the community by supporting various causes like citizenship and cancer awareness. They also attend comic conventions where they pose for photographs and interact with the fans discussing everything from the Ghostbusters movies to the animated shows, comics, and video games. Wittmaak also talked about some other things the groups have done
“We’ve done Trunk or Treats for both schools and Scouts. We did the Largo Halloween Parade last year. Gulfport Elementary had a career day, so I went in talking about community, citizenship and creativity.”
Due to the scarcity of such events during the past year, they have been helping people differently by just driving around the area. “When someone spots us,” Wittmaak said, “they always have a smile.” His group which was founded in 2017 is among the smaller ones in the state. There are other bigger groups like the Spring Hill Florida Ghostbusters, the Orlando Ghostbusters, and the Suncoast Ghostbusters with several members. Suncoast’s Jason Rawley talked about some of the things the groups do.
“Most of our appearances at events are to fundraise via holding a raffle, running games and taking photos while encouraging donations. We also visit kids in the hospital like Johns Hopkins All Children’s and Tampa General.”
Wittmaak’s group assists Suncoast with its larger charity ventures. “We’re kind of a pick-me-up group,” he said. “When another group’s car isn’t available for a fundraiser or when they need more people for an event, we come to help.”
These groups have existed since the release of the first Ghostbusters film in 1984. Ghost Corps production company which was created to oversee the franchise in 2015 announced a year later that fan groups could register with the production company. In return, the groups received a certificate signed by franchise creator Ivan Reitman.
The Lost Spirits Division currently has six members, including Stephen’s 8-year-old son, Sebastian, and his 2-year-old daughter, Selby. His wife is supportive but not a member. Wittmaak has also turned his son Sebastian into somewhat of an elementary school celebrity. “All my friends think it is really cool,” Sebastian said. “They wonder if my dad is a real Ghostbuster.”
After long being delayed, the latest entry in the ghostbusters franchise, Ghostbusters: Afterlife will arrive in theaters on November 11, 2021. Afterlife reunites stars of the original Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd, and Ernie Hudson with newcomers Paul Rudd (Ant-Man), Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things), and Mckenna Grace (Annabelle Comes Home). Jason Reitman, son of Ivan Reitman who directed the first two movies, directs the film from a screenplay he co-wrote with Gil Kenan. Let’s hope the film is worth the wait. This news comes to us from Tampa Bay Times (https://www.tampabay.com/life-culture/arts/movies/2021/06/07/st-petersburg-family-turned-their-kia-soul-into-an-ecto-1-from-ghostbusters/).
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