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December 09, 2016
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Take me to your leader

Aliens, kids and floats added up to a great day for UFO enthusiasts in Pine Bush, NY.

Like many of us, I have interest in a myriad of subjects. Gardening, nature, astronomy and ancient history top my list, but there is a subset of fascinating topics that creep into my thoughts on a consistent basis. Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster and the Bermuda Triangle are but a few of the themes that attract me. Truth be told, I have given a fair amount of attention to one area of interest over the others: UFOs.

My interest in all things flying saucer began in the 1980s (it’s a long story), peaked in the ‘90s and has held steady ever since. Just prior to moving to the Hudson Valley, I became aware that the region had experienced a bit of celebrity concerning UFO sightings (known as a “flap” in the vernacular) in the 1980s, and that there were several books written ( on the subject, including “Night Siege: The Hudson Valley UFO” written by world-famous researcher/author Dr. J. Allen Hynek.

Digging a little deeper revealed a bit of controversy surrounding a sleepy town very close to home, Pine Bush, NY, which attracted some media interest during the flap. With UFO sightings being reported throughout New York State, Pine Bush residents were suddenly noticing strange lights in the sky for months at a time, which eventually snagged some national attention, along with the prerequisite investigators, aficionados and conspiracy theorists.

Discovering this information clarified the Facebook posts I had come across announcing the “Pine Bush Area UFO Festival and Parade,” and I marked my calendar for the event, which promised lectures, slide shows, vendors, music and (yay!) a parade. A beautiful day provided the backdrop for this second annual salute to the Pine Bush sightings, and I joined the festivities eager to learn more. Festival organizer Susan Bellows Wiand was on hand to answer questions and dispense info, which I was eager to explore. Picking up a flyer for a monthly group meeting on the subject (, I chatted with some group members of the United Friends Observer Society (UFOS) took pictures and wandered the picturesque town before the parade passed by.

The website says that, “Even as reports [across New York] began to diminish after reaching a peak of two thousand sightings between 1983 and 1987, Ulster County’s Pine Bush was becoming more active with unexplained phenomenon of it’s own.” Talking with residents, visitors and organizers, I found that the town itself had kept a low profile regarding the subject for a period of time, but has jumped on board of late for a variety of reasons, using the town of Roswell, NM (long touted as the nation’s capital of UFO lore) as a model—Roswell celebrates its own checkered history with tours, a museum and yearly celebration, which brings tourism, interest and dollars.

Sparked by a renewed interest in UFOs, the Pine Bush story is (IMHO) interesting, stimulating and controversial—just my cup of tea. Night sky observers continue to make their way to our corner of the world to get a glimpse of the unknown and it’s noteworthy that “sky watching” has been banned in Orange County (as of 1999), subject to fines and/or incarceration (MUFON UFO Journal). Sounds like someone out there takes this matter seriously. Hmm.

For those who find this topic amusing, a visit to the Sullivan County Dramatic Workshop’s ( production of “You’ve Got Hate Mail” would seem a good way to wrap up the weekend, and I did just that, catching the show at their winter home—the Sullivan County Museum in Hurleyville ( ). Trying something new, the workshop partnered up with local restaurants and created their own version of “dinner theatre,” offering special deals for patrons. The show, billed as containing “mature content,” certainly had plenty of that, but since I had heard dirty words before, I didn’t let that deter me, and found director Bunny Woloszcak’s efforts to be pretty darn good.

The cast, featuring Albee Bockman, Ellen Pavloff, Lori Schneider-Wendt, Heather Strauss and Mike Washburn, was clearly having a ball, and that energy wafted over the audience, keeping them in stitches for 90 minutes of uninterrupted bawdy fun. Although everyone involved entertained, I found Strauss, Schneider-Wendt and (in particular) Washburn to be really on point and look forward to the workshop bringing the show to another venue before moving on with their 2012 season. “Hate Mail” proved to be a good season “leader” for the local group and the humor is fresh, up to date and rapid-fire.

The renovated Rivoli Theatre in South Fallsburg (the workshop’s summer home) is gearing up for the season with a variety of shows ( and a few “surprises” ) on the bill and if “Hate Mail” is any indication, there is some quality entertainment in store. For more SCDW info, visit their web site or call 845/436-5336.

Whether it’s in the sky or on the stage, the Upper Delaware Valley is always chock full of surprises.