Ouija on the roof

Playing with an Ouija board painted on the roof of the former Midway Hotel in Windber are Camille Zamboni (left), Blair Murphy (center) and Brian Cano. They are attempting to set a world record with the board, which measures nearly 30 feet by slightly over 44 feet.

WINDBER, Pa. – In recent years, Blair Murphy’s eccentric Grand Midway Hotel has hosted TV stars, welcomed the SyFy Channel’s “Haunted Collector” and inherited a big bite of Vampire Chronicles writer Anne Rice’s doll collection.

But the addition of a nearly 1,276 square foot Oujia Board has become his biggest achievement – literally. Created three stories up on the Midway’s roof, it earned the hotel a spot in the Guinness World Records book in 2017.

That’s why Murphy took notice three weeks ago when headlines touting the “Word’s Largest” Ouija started materializing out of Salem, Massachusetts.

Backed by assurance for the Guinness book’s office, the Pennsylvania man is still confident his board holds the official Guinness Book of World Records title – for now, at least.

But he’s challenging his Salem rivals to a battle of the boards, hopeful they’ll bring their massive wooden board to Windber to see if it measures up.

“I realize there’s bigger problems in the world than two guys with two Ouija boards. But let’s have fun with this and promote it,” Murphy said, suddenly channeling his inner Don King.

“He can bring his board here and we’ll have a throwdown – a Ouija war.”

Murphy contacted The Tribune-Democrat and The Boston Globe this week to issue his challenge. He is also reaching out to Rick “Ormortis” Schreck, the tattoo artist and Talking Board Historical Society member who spearheaded the effort to build his 9,000 pound “Ouija-Zilla” in the famed Witch Trials town of Salem.

Schreck was reached by The Tribune-Democrat through email but he indicated he was traveling and not immediately available for comment.

Murphy acknowledges Schreck’s board is likely the bigger of the two. But the Grand Midway’s meets the Guinness World Records’ detailed requirements, he said.

“Mine doesn’t have advertisements on it,” he said.

Schreck’s, while stained in the traditional sepia tone-style Ouija Board blend, is framed by advertisements – resembling a family restaurant placemat.

“Guinness is strict about those kinds of things,” Murphy said.

He went through a multi-step process to achieve the record in 2017 – after originally contacting the group to create the record category.

Murphy said he paid an application fee, “and then the burden is on you to prove it.”

Murphy hosted a small camera crew from the Guinness World Records earlier this month to showcase his hotel – and his record-grabbing tarot card inside the hotel.

The Guinness company wasn’t reached for comment but the company posted news on its Website on Wednesday detailing images inside the hotel and reconfirming Murphy’s hotel still holds their record.

“It gets us a lot of attention here in Windber,” he said. “People love it.”

David Hurst is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5053. Follow him on Twitter @TDDavidHurst and Instagram @TDDavidHurst.

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