By Rachel R. Basinger-For the Daily Courier-Monday, April 10, 2006
The Kecksburg UFO monument, better known among the locals as "the acorn," will soon get a new home. The event commemorated by the monument took place more than 40 years ago, on Dec. 9, 1965, when witnesses say they saw an object fall from the sky into a small patch of woods. Several witnesses agree the military was involved, blocking the path of anyone getting to the object before it was hauled away. While some think the flying object was an extraterrestrial spaceship, others explain the phenomenon as some type of Soviet satellite or Venus probe that went off course.
In the early 1990s, the television show "Unsolved Mysteries" came to do a story on the event. After the production crews left, the monument made for the show was left behind in Kecksburg, Mt. Pleasant Township. It was placed on a podium at the Kecksburg Fire Hall. The fire department never got involved with bringing attention to the event or the monument until recently.
In need of more than $300,000 for a pumper truck, firefighters pulled together to think of unusual ways to raise money. With a monument sitting on their property -- representing an event that brought international attention to the small village -- fire department officials decided to take advantage. To date, firefighters have raised more than $9,000 selling T-shirts, sweatshirts and videotapes of the "Unsolved Mysteries" television clip and the more recent Sci-Fi Channel television clip.
But, in order to attract additional interest -- and customers who would buy merchandise -- the fire department formed a UFO committee. Ron Struble, chairman of the committee, said that's when members came up with the idea of refurbishing the monument and moving it to an adjacent piece of fire department property. The fire department's UFO gift shop is located in the emergency services headquarters directly beside the new site that is still being prepared.
"Where it sat originally was not a very good location," Struble said. "If someone stopped to look at it and we got a fire call, we would have to ask them to leave. Now they won't be affected if we get a fire call."
In addition to parking for tour buses and other visitors, the little park will include sidewalks leading up to the monument that will be placed on a platform attached to a tall steel tubing cylinder.
"We want to really dress it up with shrubs and all," Struble said.
While the monument has been waiting for its new home, it has received a face-lift. It's been covered with a special coating that should last for 20 to 30 years. The hieroglyphic-looking symbols around the bottom of the monument also were redone with special caulking that should also last for 20 to 30 years.
"After all these years, there's still enough interest being shown that we thought we could benefit," Struble said. "We've had people from Japan and Germany come to visit, and we've gotten e-mails from all over the place."
Stan Gordon, UFO researcher who has worked tirelessly on finding out what really happened that day, said the fire department's efforts will be nothing but beneficial for them as well as the community.
"I have received a number of calls over the years from people out of town who had heard of the event," Gordon said. "They wanted to know what all there was to see. Unfortunately, there was really nothing here for them except for the monument itself."
Gordon said that a refurbished monument in a permanent home that is tourist-friendly, along with a souvenir shop, will bring in more visitors.
"This is a local mystery with an international interest that puts Kecksburg on the map," Gordon said. "Overall, this will be beneficial to the community." Struble said the fire department hopes to have the site completed by month's end, but will be happy to have the money raised for their new pumper in five to 10 years. Gordon added that anyone who may have information on the event, and has not yet come forward, to call him at 724-838-7768 or visit his Web site at www.stangordon.com.
"We're still pursuing the constant rumors that there are some pictures out there of the object," Gordon said. "If anyone has these pictures, they could really help solve the case."
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