Monday, August 08, 2005
Fyffe Cashing in on UFO Events of 16 Years Ago
Sixteen years after several reported sightings of unidentified flying objects drew national attention and thousands of visitors to Fyffe, a UFO is scheduled to appear at this rural Sand Mountain town this month.
But Mayor Larry Lingerfelt said it's just a lot of hot air - hot air balloons, that is.t's part of the town's Unforgettable Family Outing event to be held Aug. 19-20.
Lingerfelt said he conceived the idea from watching a hot air balloon event in Fayette last year before he was elected mayor.
"I thought if I got to be mayor, we need to do something unique" to draw people to the community, he said Wednesday.
Lingerfelt said he suggested linking a family event that would include hot air balloon rides, music and other fun activities with the town's UFO past.
"You can go anywhere in the U.S. and people recognize (the name) Fyffe because of its UFO legacy," he said. "We're just tying into the advantage we have."
City Councilman Billy Carroll said the council unanimously supported the mayor's proposal.
"We thought it's a good idea - anything to help the town," he said.
Carroll said he was a member of the town's fire department when the UFO sightings were reported in February 1989. He was among those who saw what he said "was the weirdest thing I'd ever seen."
While several described the UFO as a banana-shaped, bright light, Carroll said he saw a white spot in the night sky that quickly disappeared.
Alabama 75 through Fyffe "was like Panama City Beach" during spring break, he said. "Traffic was bumper to bumper all the way to Fort Payne (about 15 miles away on 75 and Alabama 35) from motorists wanting to see a UFO, he said.
Reports of the UFO sightings attracted 4,000 to 5,000 visitors from around the country to Fyffe, which has a population of less than 1,000, Lingerfelt said.
"Like everyone else, I got out and looked," he said.
Lingerfelt said although he didn't see anything, he's convinced there are those who did. He's also sure that people will once again be drawn to the town when about a dozen hot air balloons are seen hovering above it during the two-day event.
"I think we've got the connection," Lingerfelt said. "It's a unique one that will capture people's interest and imagination."
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