By Meryl Conant
It has attracted nearly 3,000 tourists to a small town just off Interstate 26. And its owner says it may attract some from outer space.
In the slightly more than one square mile that is Bowman, South Carolina, there is one blinking light, one restaurant and at least 16 churches. Nearly 1,200 people call Bowman home.
“There is not much here. Sunday afternoon you can ride around in your car, that's about the most excitement around here. All except for the spaceship,” said Jody Pendarvis. In the shadow of the town's only gas station sits what you could call Pendarvis' cosmic condo. Decades of work and love have turned wood and aluminum into a 42-foot wide planted saucer. He calls it the UFO Welcome Center.
“I guess some people have a destiny and my destiny must have been to build this.”
In 1994, Pendarvis started piecing together wood from his grandfather's house to build his own. But anything square was too square for him.
Pendarvis is known as the alien ambassador.
“Seriously, I am here to welcome the aliens from out of space.”
Inside, you find 4 stories filled with Christmas lights, space-related videos, a mess Pendarvis claims the aliens left behind and some of his 13 cats.
Pendarvis cannot explain why he pours so much time and already more than $20,000 into his hobby.
“Some people think I ought to turn it into a ghost house for Halloween,” he said.
But the UFO man is not out to make a profit or to gain acceptance. But, he is looking for the community’s support.
“Since this is the only attraction in Bowman, I think I’ll run for mayor and maybe I’ll get it.”
This unofficial mascot of Bowman wants to make it official.
“They want a friendly town and right now friendly is the main word I want to go for,” he explained.
It is a campaign platform based the way he lives his life: welcoming strangers into the town he keeps an extra-eye on from up above.
Pendarvis is running for mayor against Zelda Pelzer, who has held the post for 7 years. She says she is basing her campaign on improving the quality of life and the economy of Bowman. The election is November 6th.
The welcome center is located at 4004 Homestead Road in Bowman. Hours vary so call 803-829-2311 to check if Pendarvis is accepting visitors.
source and references:
Archived UFO Articles and News Items, 2007
UFO Casebook Home Page