(NEW YORK) -- World UFO Day is an annual affair that has captured the interest of many enthusiastic alien believers and recognized globally with parades, scientific discussion, and occasionally pointy tinfoil hats.
It takes place every July 2 to commemorate the anniversary of the alleged 1947 Unidentified Flying Object crash in Roswell, New Mexico. The original report hailed the crashed object as a “flying disk.” Later, the U.S. Army called it a UFO accident, but ultimately, the Pentagon claimed it was a balloon wreck. To this day, many don’t accept that account and have urged the government to declassify information.
Since 2001, people worldwide have celebrated the day, but it takes various forms. Science museums, restaurants, and entire towns hold their own events to commemorate the day.
Some Ufologists, or UFO researchers, voice concern with how the day is observed. Instead of the tinfoil hat-wearing that has been documented at past parades, those such as Ronald James hope for “meaningful discussions and awareness,” to come out of the day. James is the media relations director of Mutual UFO Network, a nonprofit which investigates reported UFO sightings around the world.
“We think anything that brings awareness to the topic is good, but we also again are dedicated to the scientific understanding of the subject,” James told ABC Audio. “World UFO Day is absolutely awesome, just because it’s bringing attention to the whole topic.”
The official World UFO Day goal is “to celebrate the existence of UFOs and extraterrestrial life”, according to the event’s website. One of the proposed actions to celebrate is to “watch the sky together and spot strange objects flying around,” which is exactly what one branch of MUFON plans to do. The Missouri MUFON Chapter is holding a “sky watch” Saturday at 7 p.m. in Kansas City, to locate potential UFOs.
According to a poll by the Pew Research Center, 65% of Americans believe that aliens exist. Earlier this year, the House of Representatives held a hearing on UFOs and the possible vulnerabilities they generate. This was something that MUFON’s 4000-plus members advocated for since its founding in 1969 and was the first time the House had done so in 50 years.
“We were happy that the hearings happened. MUFON was in Washington,” James said. “We were involved in helping to push this forward and we’re actually in Washington a lot right now dealing with politicians.”
For those living in Roswell, New Mexico, the site of the alleged crash that sparked this all, awareness is just a slight part of the celebration. Ufologists will speak about their take on the government’s role in investigating alleged UFO sightings, but more so, the day is an economic opportunity presented by their annual UFO Festival, which now marks 75 years since the Roswell incident.
This year, its festival will take place Friday through Sunday and will feature a parade, concert, speakers, food, tours, and more, making it the biggest celebration of World UFO Day anywhere, with a history that spans long before World UFO Day became a global phenomenon.