Kecksburg UFO fest returns as interest in aliens rises |

Kecksburg UFO fest returns as interest in aliens rises

Jacob Tierney
Tribune-Review file
Jeanne Pollock of Acme, dressed as an alien, puts her head through a wooden alien cutout at the Kecksburg UFO Festival on Sunday, July 31, 2016.
Jamie Martines | Tribune-Review
Harmony Rankin, 8, of Brewster Mills, W. Va., parades down Kecksburg-Norvelt Road during the Kecksburg UFO Festival on July 28, 2018.

Interest in extraterrestrials is at its highest point in decades as Kecksburg prepares for its 14th annual UFO festival this weekend, according to organizers.

“I think there will probably be a very good crowd coming out this weekend,” said Greensburg paranormal investigator Stan Gordon, who will speak at the festival.

Gordon said interest in aliens and other unexplained phenomena has been surging since December 2017, when the New York Times revealed the existence of a secret Pentagon program that investigated reported UFO sightings.

Gordon keeps track of local sightings and said he’s recently seen an uptick.

“These different stories have been coming out, and all the reports … we’ve had a surge of UFO and Bigfoot sightings,” Gordon said.

The Kecksburg festival offers a typical community celebration with an alien twist.

There will be fireworks, a parade, a hot dog eating contest and craft vendors — typical local festival fare — alongside a UFO convention for true believers with talks by Gordon and others.

The three-day festival starts 6 p.m. Friday and ends 5 p.m. Sunday.

It commemorates an event on Dec. 9, 1965, when residents from six states and Canada saw a fireball streak across the sky. Kecksburg residents reported the fireball crashed into nearby woods. Researchers and speculators are divided on what the fireball was. NASA believes it was most likely a meteor but acknowledges it could have been the remains of a Russian spacecraft. Alien hunters have other theories.

An independent film about the incident is set to debut at Uniontown’s State Theatre on Sept. 12.

Whether you believe in aliens or not, the Kecksburg UFO Festival is a way to explore the possibility of life on other worlds without provoking the ire of the Air Force — unlike another alien-themed event that has grabbed headlines this summer.

The Facebook event “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us” was created as a joke, and it’s clearly still seen that way by the vast majority of the 1.9 million people who say they’re attending.

The event proposes charging the secretive “Area 51” Air Force test site, which is the frequent subject of alien conspiracy theories.

Most of the posts on the page are jokes about aliens and people foolish enough to actually show up. There’s also plenty of links to websites selling Area 51-themed merchandise.

However, the Air Force sees it as no laughing matter, issuing a statement to the Washington Post that “any attempt to illegally access the area is highly discouraged.”

Kecksburg UFO Festival organizers don’t believe the joke event will likely drive any extra interest in their event.

Kecksburg firefighter and festival organizer Ron Struble laughed when told about it.

“I haven’t heard about it,” he said. “I’m busy setting up for the festival.“

Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jacob at 724-836-6646, [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Local | Westmoreland
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