A quick note on our charity knitting: we've raised just about $350 so far for the American Red Cross. We've sold all but two of the items we initially created specifically for this charity drive. Not too shabby for about three or four knitters, half of whom were in crunch mode on Quake 4 (for those who don't know, crunch mode means about 14+ hour days, 7 days a week for a couple of months or more before the end of a project). It seems like this should be continued even though the aid for Katrina is likely tapering off now, so I'm going to be generalizing this page and continuing to add items for different charities (thanks to the ease of Mission Fish). The other girls say they'd like to continue contributing, and what's nice is that it's something we can just add to as we continue to make items. Each knitter can choose the charity they'd like to contribute the money to, so we may have several charities receiving money. I've already got a pink ribbon shawl in the works and will probably donate that money to a breast cancer research foundation.
Now, I need to talk about the most wonderful thing we did this weekend: attend Belleville's UFO Days.
If someone had told me years ago that I'd be living in Wisconsin and would attend a festival in a village of 1900 people called "UFO Days" based on the alleged UFO sightings of said village police officers a couple of decades before, I'd never have believed them. But it's true, we went on Saturday.
The village of Belleville is about fifteen minutes down the road and has twice the population of our own village of Monticello. The web page already linked has the origins of this fascinating festival, but the gist of it is that a couple of police officers in Belleville in 1987 saw some strange lights in the sky, and then several residents in Belleville and nearby New Glarus reported similar strange lights over a period of a few months.
Now, one thing we've learned in this region of the country is that we're pretty sure it's a state law that every village must have a festival devoted to some thing every weekend from the months of March through October. I don't know how the logic went, but somehow this sighting of strange lights in the sky actually got turned into a weekend festival. And the tiara on this little midwestern princess is the UFO Days Parade.
Len and I drove up to Belleville and parked and then lined up with everyone else on the street. There were children in costumes everywhere, since part of the festival is a costume ball for the kids, and the parade walkers throw candy into the crowds. The parade began, and what it lacked in budget it certainly made up for in...well, something. Originality, perhaps.
Some of the floats -- and I use that term loosely -- were just cars with signs for local businesses that had ad slogans on them themed for the parade. "Out of this world service!" Or something like that. But those weren't the parade pay off. There were people walking in the parade wearing headbands with those springy antennae on them, ones with little glow-in-the-dark alien heads bobbing on them. The Brownies (the girls' version of the Cub Scouts) had a float with all the little girls decked out in green and accompanied by the same inflatable "gray" alien -- only green in this parade, but you know what I'm talking about if you're into sci-fi at all -- that seemed to decorate all of the floats and cars. They must have a manufacturer just for this parade. There was a great parody of the original story that started UFO days -- a high school girl put on a costume that cleverly made it look like she was being abducted by an alien; following her were two other high school girls in a golf cart with sheriff outfits on, and a sign on the back that said, "we hope we catch them this time!"
But then the mother of all floats rolled by. A small flatbed tow truck carried a group of people in costume on it; at the center was some kind of foil contraption that looked like a cross between a UFO and a Jiffy Pop popcorn container fully popped. The sign said, "cooking up alien stew." Standing next to the "pot" was a man in a suit wearing a Richard Nixon mask, and in his hands he carried a live duck wearing a tiny football helmet.
I'll let you read that again so you can fully absorb the incongruity of it all. We still don't know what the combination of Nixon, the duck, and the football helmet had to do with UFOs, but it made us laugh.
After the parade ended we walked down to the park, had some of the food from the vendors there, and then walked up to the quilt show at the high school. All of this is part of UFO Days, and no, we're not really sure what they have to do with UFOs either.
I could have kicked myself for not bringing a camera.