Have you ever heard of the Exit 82 Parkway ghost?

I didn’t until after I saw it.

It was a dark, foggy, rainy morning in October 2003. It was around 3:30 a.m. and I was driving to work (morning radio at the time). I was on the Garden State Parkway southbound approaching Exit 82 (Toms River) when all of a sudden, a man wearing a long raincoat came running across the road flailing his arms, almost like he was warning me about something.

I immediately hit my brakes, terrified I was going to hit him.

I’ve always been worried about an animal running across my path while driving but never did I think a person would be high-tailing it across the Parkway in the dark, in the rain and at that ungodly hour.

Since I was the only car on the road at that moment, I stopped and got out to make sure the man was OK. I realize now this could have gone wrong in so many ways but, I had to find out what was happening.

Poof! There was no man. It was like he disappeared into thin air. Where did he go? He had just run across the Parkway.


'Oh, you saw the Parkway ghost.'

Was I seeing things? Did I imagine this? I realize it’s 3:30 in the morning, I’m a bit sleep-deprived from having a 16-month-old at home, and I work the "morning drive" radio shift, but I know what I saw.

I got back in my car and went to work. I told the morning show team what happened.  I told them about Exit 82, the raincoat, and the flailing arms.

They did not look surprised. One of them said, “Oh, you saw the Parkway ghost.”

I had never heard of this before. So, I decided to do a little digging. There are many stories about the legend of the Parkway Ghost.

Here is one of them.

Ghosts of the Garden State (Photo Credit: Jen Ursillo)
Ghosts of the Garden State (Photo Credit: Jen Ursillo)

The Parkway Phantom

According to “Ghosts of the Garden State,” by Lynda Lee Macken, the Parkway Phantom, as she called him, haunted this short stretch of the highway in Toms River for years.

The sightings date back to 1955 when the Garden State Parkway was first completed. While State Police have not commented on the ghost sightings, they have admitted to a larger than usual number of accidents in the area of Exit 82, Macken wrote.

The tall male ghost is always described as wearing a long, belted raincoat (✔), and is typically seen on foggy nights waving his arm wildly as he crosses the roadway (✔).

Motorists have stopped to help the man, but when they do, he’s nowhere in sight. (✔)

That is exactly what happened to me.

Jen Ursillo, New Jersey 101.5's award-winning midday news anchor. (Sergio Bichao/Townsquare Media NJ)
Jen Ursillo, New Jersey 101.5's award-winning midday news anchor. (Sergio Bichao/Townsquare Media NJ)

Who was the ghost?

Legend has it that some feel his wild, erratic behavior is a deliberate warning signal to motorists to slow down, and be careful of danger ahead, according to the book. Remember I told you that when I saw him flailing his arms, I felt like he was trying to warn me about something? Spooky.

Maybe he was a casualty of a car accident himself and now wants to protect others.

“The strangest thing is the way the apparition abnormally bends his arms from the elbow moving both at the same time,” Macken wrote.

I don’t remember that part but again, I was not expecting to see this man or ghost running in front of my car on a dark and dreary October morning.

Well, that’s the legend of the Exit 82 Parkway Phantom. Be careful driving on that stretch of the roadway. Be on the lookout for the man in the long raincoat.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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