|Photo: John Kidd|
Here are a couple of things you probably didn’t know: New York has its own Roswell — an unofficial UFO sighting capital. And that capital is the small town of Pine Bush, about an hour and a half north of Manhattan on the west side of the Hudson.
Legend has it residents have been witnessing strange events, including floating balls of light in the forest, going back to the early 1900s. In the 1950s through the 1990s, reports of unidentified airborne objects exploded. Hundreds of converts claimed to have seen a boomerang-shaped object darting through the sky. Others have videotaped triangular lights or cigar-shaped crafts. Still others have reported seeing strange objects in the sky headed for LaGuardia Airport.
Pine Bush has long embraced its connection to the beyond, viewing it as a potential way to nab tourist dollars. On Saturday, the town hosts its annual UFO Fair. (The rain date is Sunday.)
The daylong event, now in its fourth year, includes live music, lectures from UFO authors, games, face painting and an alien-themed parade down Main Street with decorated cars and humans in costumes.
“It’s probably one of the biggest days we have here,” says Phil Barnao, owner of Fort Lox Bagel, Cafe & Deli, which will host an audience-participation radio broadcast of “The War of the Worlds” at 7 p.m. “They make it a family-oriented type of deal.”
For the record, Barnao has never seen a UFO himself.
“People who have, they must be doing a lot of medical marijuana. I don’t know,” he says.
Last year’s festival drew some 7,000 believers. “We’ve started to get people from the city,” says Domanie Ragni, community services director for the town of Crawford, of which Pine Bush is a part. “People come from out of state. We had somebody come from another country.”
Those hoping to snap a photo of a spacecraft might be out of luck. Sightings have dropped since the 1990s when, perhaps not coincidentally, the cow fields in which skywatchers used to gather were turned into strip malls or condos.
We’re a long way from the days in 1993 when a local man told the Poughkeepsie Journal that he’d been abducted by little green men and immobilized in order to have “a sperm sample” taken. That wasn’t an alien, sir, it was Madonna.
Another article described the sighting of a strange cat that “had a piece of cardboard where its head should be.”
No one’s quite sure why little Pine Bush has been honored with so much mysterious activity. One of the few explanations was put forth by a geologist named Bruce Cornet, who theorized in the 1990s that the Hudson Valley was home to underground alien bases that were beaming signals to spaceships in orbit.
Cornet claimed that the geography of Pine Bush was similar to that of the area on Mars where early photos seemed to reveal the
outline of a giant face (later shown to be a trick of the shadows) and pyramid-like structures. (You guessed it — it was later shown to be a trick of the shadows.)
Ah, well. Should you be heading to Pine Bush for the UFO Fair, please let the ETs know that they’re wise to keep building their bases a few hours north of New York. Rents here are murder.
Pine Bush UFO Fair; ufofairpinebush. com; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. street fair with food, music vendors and costumes on Main Street; 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. car show at EJR Elementary School, 78 Holland Ave.; 3 p.m. parade down Main Street; 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Linda Zimmerman, author of “Hudson Valley UFOs,” speaks at Pine Bush Library, 227 Maple Ave.