By Karl Klooster
Of the News-Register
Of the News-Register
Parade-goers roam Third Street before the parade
Joel Ray / News-Register
“They came from everywhere,” Williams gasped, barely able to maintain her composure after such a taxing ordeal. “Word has apparently gotten out over the intergalactic communications network, and they’re determined to make a show of force.”
According to her calculations, the 2012 parade established a new record for entries at 55 and individual participants at 619. By comparison, the 2009 parade logged 37 entries and 349 individuals.
Star Wars characters patrol the 13th annual UFO Festival, which drew large crowds to downtown McMinnville on Saturday. Joel Ray / News-Register
Pointing out that the growth of such an event is necessarily restricted by the size limitations of McMinnville’s central district, she mentioned that this year, the parade route was expanded to Fourth Street to accommodate more attendees.
“Not only were there more exotic aliens this year,” Williams said, “but more curious humans came to welcome them.”
The homo sapiens gawking in awe and wonder at the extraterrestrials and their bizarre vehicles passing by lined Third Street five deep. Observers who elected to view the scene from Fourth Street sidewalks enjoyed less crowded conditions.
Still, people stood curbside as far up Fourth as Evans.
If this continues, both streets could very well be packed with onlookers in years to come. There may be no stopping the momentum of McMinnville’s UFO Festival phenomenon.
Having the opportunity to converse with some of these ETs provided a unique perspective for this writer.
Take the female trio calling themselves The Celestial Sun Sisters. In a futile effort to cloak their true identities, they claimed to be from Centralia, Washington.
Further, the “sisters” had assumed the alien aliases of Sunny Hawkins, Mary Creeley and Connie Pyles. Her cohorts kept referring to the latter as “Connie the Creator.”
My suspicions about their cover story, which seemed blatantly bogus, were confirmed when the obviously duped judges selected her as this year’s Queen. And instead of insisting her sisters accompany her on the Queen’s float, she left them to fend for themselves.
Then there was the group with the audacity to claim it hailed from our own Dayton. It would have been a better ruse to claim Dayton, Ohio. Given only minimal investigation, I determined this crew was actually from Planet Retina.
Anyone with average vision could clearly see that these aliens had eyeballs all over them. In fact, one had a giant eyeball for a head.
Another part of their cover story was a claim to membership in the Red Hat Society. But I didn’t see any red hats, just a bunch of bug-eyed eyeballs and a banner with the scary slogan, “Our Eyeballs Are On You.”
Shades of the book and movie “1984.”
Speaking of actually identifying true planetary origins, the Intergalactic Scottish Gladiators from the Planet Zarg appeared bellicose enough to wage war if given the slightest excuse.
Fortunately, another well-armed, Intergalactic group dedicated to maintaining peace and order was also out in force.
The Cloud City Garrison, a chapter of the famed Star Wars 501st Legion, was making its sixth straight voyage to McMinnville. Luke, Ben and Anikan Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Darth Vader, Chewbacca the Wookie, a cadre of storm troopers and a star-studded selection of other Star Wars characters arrived here at warp speed.
Encounters went on and on, including those of local humans participating in the parade. The latter included Grand Marshals Bruce and Esther Huffman, riding in a red 1966 Cadillac Eldorado convertible driven by owner Dean Klaus, who was accompanied by his wife, Debbie.
Noted Gallery Theater players Jeff and Julia Sargent were covering the event for our own Channel 11. And Portland’s KXL Radio brought a news SUV to town so its paranormal Ground Zero show host Clyde Lewis could cover the guest speakers.
Proof and/or belief that there is life out there abounded at the UFO Festival. So there was a lot to report on.
A key player in all this is the McMenamins organization, founder and chief sponsor of the event through its Hotel Oregon.
The hotel’s tent at Third and Evans was abuzz with activity, from brews and BBQ to alien accouterments and a bevy of books chosen just for the occasion. Following are a few titles intended to entice those intrigued by the subject of life on other worlds:
“The Klutz Guide to The Galaxy,” “Life As We Do Not Know It,” “Hair of the Alien: DNA and other forensic evidence of alien abduction;” “UFO Encyclopedia;” and “Alien Invasion: The Ultimate Guide for the Ultimate Attack.”
However you look at it, McMinnville’s UFO Festival, punctuated by the parade, has become a Close Encounter of the Third Kind. It’s something to look forward to with an abnormal level of anticipation each year. You could say simply being there will put you in an alien daze.