Wednesday, November 14, 2007

An Alien Concept

IF the Tournament of Roses folks didn't have enough trouble with the Chinese Olympics float becoming a thorn in their side, now comes word that New Mexico's parade entry is causing a bit of a stir.

The good people from the Land of Enchantment plan to launch an entry called "Passport to Our World and Beyond" down Colorado Boulevard which will commemorate the alleged crash of a UFO into the desert near Roswell in July 1947.

The military said it was a weather balloon but those who embrace the double whammy of space aliens and conspiracy theories have made Roswell their Mecca.

Some in New Mexico think that if the state is going to drop $200,000 on a float, there are a lot better things to celebrate than those who claim to have an up close and personal relationship with Jabba the Hutt.

Such as beautiful scenery, a unique cuisine, a thriving arts scene and an ethnically diverse population, for starters.

But those who object to the float have been left on the pad. Plans call for three big-headed green space aliens riding in an open-air UFO. There also will be rockets, planets and a 24-foot conical tower on the 18-foot-wide, 55-foot-long float.

The last time New Mexico had a float in the parade, it was a more traditional concept celebrating the wonders of the state and featuring Gov. Bill Richardson, whose current presidential campaign appears to be an alien concept to most voters.

New Mexico tourism officials said there was a 16 percent spike in requests for information from Southern California residents in the week following their appearance in the 2006 parade.

Imagine the interest they could generate this year, especially if they featured presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich, who acknowledged during a recent Democrat candidates debate that he had seen a UFO. Or Jimmy Carter (ditto). Or former Arizona Gov. Fife Symington, who said he was among hundreds who saw a delta-shaped craft with enormous lights silently traverse the sky near Phoenix in 1997.

Maybe these New Mexicans are on to something.

A recent poll by the Associated Press found that 34 percent of people polled believe in unidentified flying objects.

Just to put it in perspective, that's higher than George Bush's approval rating.

And if that's not enough, a CNN/Time poll shows that 80 percent of Americans think the government is hiding knowledge of the existence of extraterrestrial life forms.

Sixty-four percent of the respondents said that aliens have contacted humans, half said they've abducted humans, and 37 percent said they have contacted the U.S. government. Maybe that's why so many politicians have admitted to UFO sightings.

None of this is lost on the Roswell Chamber of Commerce which throws an annual UFO Festival featuring entertainment (this year staring the Alan Parsons Project, War, and Element 115 which bills itself as the only band with an alien drummer), dozens of guest speakers (sample lecture: UFOs and the Death of Marilyn Monroe), balloon rides, activities for the kiddies, etc. They claim to draw 50,000 to their sleepy little town.

Actually, the Rose Parade is no stranger to things extraterrestrial. George Lucas ("Star Wars") was a grand marshal. So was John Glenn and Apollo 12 astronauts Alan L. Bean, Charles Conrad Jr. and Richard F. Gordon Jr. And even William Shatner of "Star Trek." I doubt if it was for his acting prowess.

So welcome, New Mexico. Enjoy your stay in Southern California which many people consider a trip to another planet.

And if you don't think there are aliens among us, go to the Doo Dah Parade while you're here.

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