Kenny Braasch appeared to me like a ghost with a riddle — twice.
The first time was in May at a Smirnoff promotional party in the West Loop, where some of the Chicago “Love Is Blind” cast were present. But my attention was on a tall stranger by the bar who kept getting double takes from me throughout the evening.
“I know he’s attractive, but that’s not it. Where do I know him from?” I texted my reliable group chat, and a friend responded with, “That’s Kenny!”
Mystery solved. I first saw Kenny on TV in 2020, when he was a contestant on “The Bachelorette” and was introduced to America as the “boy band manager” from Chicago.
Kenny appeared to me again on a random September day as I walked out of Anthropologie, and he walked past me down State Street. And this is where this ghost story starts. I followed a reality TV star on Instagram, and it led me to the question: Are ghosts real? And how do we come to explain the unexplained?
Giving life to a ghost
When scrolling through Instagram, I saw a video of Kenny that stood out from his usual feed, and the words “ghost bird” caught my attention. He offered some background, asked his followers to chime in with their thoughts and showed the video.
The paranormal activity in question is like any other you find on the internet: It’s dark, a little grainy and lasts about two seconds. Still, it leaves a lasting impression on people who see it and debate whether the entity is a flowing dust particle or a message from the great beyond.
In view of a Blink camera is a stack of production equipment sitting in a dark corner of a storage facility that belongs to 115 Bourbon St., an entertainment complex in Merrionette Park. Out of nowhere, from right to left, a figure that resembles a white dove appears to glide above the equipment.
Skeptics understandably might say it’s just dust. Let’s move on. Why is the Sun-Times writing about this? I hear you.
But if it is dust, why would it alert a Blink security camera? And if it is dust or other natural flowing particles, why would it take such a shape that almost resembles a bird?
“What the hell is that?”
That’s what Kenny told me his initial reaction was when his friend Will Kolacek, who first received the alert from the Blink camera, sent him the video on Oct. 5. And this date adds to the speculation that the apparition could be bigger than just dust.
You see, the equipment on the video was frequently used by an old friend of Kenny and Will. That person worked with them at 115 Bourbon St. — and he died on Oct. 5 three years ago.
Giving meaning to life, the afterlife
The first question Kenny indirectly posed to me at the party — Why does this stranger have such a strong impression on me? — was easy to answer. I think the answer for this second question about ghosts and apparitions is definitely more complicated but similar.
This ghost story is very human. Or, at least, it has elements of what make us human.
The location, the objects, the person — the details that make the video such a curiosity — would be nothing if they didn’t have something personal attached to them that give our lives meaning.
Ultimately, if I were their lost friend watching this from the afterlife, I would be flattered and filled with a strong sense of reassurance. Reassurance that I left Earth with no doubt that I had made an impact on others through my friendships, work or simply by just existing.