Kecksburg UFO Festival celebrates … something … that fell from the sky in 1965

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A smalltown festival devoted to paranormal phenomena is not going to hold too many surprises, given the subject matter.

So to see a young man striding with a sense of purpose in full Army regalia at the 2019 Kecksburg UFO Festival on Saturday — well, it didn’t seem all that unusual, even with temperatures in the high 80s.

Sabastian Synuria, 18, of Brownsville, who plays a soldier in the upcoming film “Kecksburg,” wore a uniform and helmet as he staffed the independent film’s booth at the Kecksburg UFO Festival.

Synuria, who also was a grip for “Kecksburg,” said he found out about the movie while playing an extra in the 2015 horror movie “Gore Orphanage,” which was directed by the wife of “Kecksburg” director Cody Knotts.

“I signed up for one of his acting classes, and that’s how I got involved,” Synuria said.

And watching people get their picture taken next to a large, acorn-shaped object, or 7-foot statues of Bigfoot — again, perfectly normal.

Karen Beyrand, 67, of Yukon, who attended the festival with her husband, Frank, 75, said she’s been interested in the possibility of alien life since she was a young girl.

“I’m familiar with the (Kecksburg) incident. I’ve read up on it, and I remember something happening in 1965,” she said. “I believe something did happen here. Whether it was Russian or something from outer space, I don’t know.”

The festival, now in its 14th year, celebrates a UFO crash that is said to have taken place in a wooded area near the Mt. Pleasant Township community of Kecksburg on Dec. 9, 1965.

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A fireball was seen streaking across seven northeastern states and Canada the afternoon of Dec. 9, according to Tribune-Review reports from the next day.

Those living nearby said that they felt vibrations, followed by “a thump” around the time the object is said to have crashed.

One of the primary witnesses was an 8-year-old boy who said he saw what looked like “a flaming star” fall into the woods.

Bob Gatty was a young reporter working at the Tribune-Review at the time. He had just finished covering a school board meeting when the night editor came over, put his arm around his shoulder and said, “Bob, I’ve got the story of the century for you.”

Gatty, 76, who now lives in Myrtle Beach, S.C., thought his editor was sending him on a “snipe hunt.” Nonetheless, he obediently drove down to Kecksburg, where he encountered local authorities and military personnel.

“They were blocking people’s access into this field,” he said. “There were all these people milling around, watching to see what was going on. I got out of my car and walked over to a guy and said, ‘Hey, what’s going on.’ And he said, ‘Nothing. … There’s nothing down there.’ ”

The man told him, “You can’t go down there. You’ll be arrested.”

Then Gatty started interviewing witnesses.

“Some said they saw this object come down, and it seemed like it was guided and went down through this tree and landed in the field,” he said. “Later there were reports that a flatbed truck with some kind of big object covered with a tarp was brought out of there.”

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Gatty left the Tribune-Review a few weeks later to continue his journalism career in Harrisburg and elsewhere. But no matter how hard he tried, that night in Kecksburg stayed with him.

“This thing has followed me my entire life,” he said. “I’ve covered a lot of big stuff … and what is it that’s followed me all these years? It’s the Kecksburg UFO.”

The area was investigated by state and federal authorities. State police told the Tribune-Review Dec. 10, 1965, that they found “absolutely nothing whatsoever and no marks to indicate anything” after searching the area with equipment to detect radiation.

Astronomers said the large fireball was likely a Geminid meteor from the constellation Gemini.

The Kecksburg UFO Festival, an annual fundraiser for the Kecksburg Volunteer Fire Department, concludes on Sunday. A UFO conference starts at 1 p.m. in the EMS building.

Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Stephen at 724-850-1280, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review

Parade participants Raygan Mizikar (right), 11, and Morghan Myers, 13, dressed as a human being abducted by an alien, get ready for the parade.

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Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review

Crowds watch from the sidewalks during the parade on Saturday, July 27, 2019 at the Kecksburg UFO Festival in Kecksburg.

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Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review

Crowds watch from the sidewalks during the parade on Saturday, July 27, 2019 at the Kecksburg UFO Festival in Kecksburg.

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Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review

Jade Abel (right) and Crystal White watch with their tinfoil hats during the parade on Saturday, July 27, 2019 at the Kecksburg UFO Festival.

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Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review

Crowds watch the “Kecksburg UFO” as it’s trucked down the parade route in the bed of an antique Army truck during the parade.

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Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review

Robert Goodling, 8, right, of State College, watches the parade with his younger brother, Lincoln Goodling, 4, on Saturday, July 27, 2019 during the Kecksburg UFO Festival in Kecksburg.

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Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review

Parade participants make their way through Kecksburg during the UFO parade on Saturday, July 27, 2019 at the Kecksburg UFO Festival in Kecksburg.

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Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review

Parade participants toss candy for crowds on Saturday, July 27, 2019 during the Kecksburg UFO Festival in Kecksburg.

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Emily Swartz, of Munhall, leads Killian Sluk, 5, of Munhall through the vendor booths on Saturday, July 27, 2019 during the Kecksburg UFO Festival in Kecksburg.

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Barney Leeper, a 25 year veteran of the Kecksburg Volunteer Fire Department, works on mixing kettle popcorn with his wife, Sue Leeper, right, on Saturday, July 27, 2019 during the Kecksburg UFO Festival in Kecksburg.



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