CELEBRATING UFOs ELMWOOD , WISCONSIN
Elmwood is a friendly village with a lot of good folks living there, raising their families. If anyone were to chose an ideal landing spot for some way-out-of-towners’ first encounter with “earthlings”, this would be it.
The first publicized sighting of a UFO near Elmwood came on March 2nd, 1975.
Carol Forster and her three children were on their way home when they noticed a particularly bright “star” paralleling their car. At one point, it dipped down to hover above the tree tops. Carol stopped the car and was considering seeking refuge at the Jack Baier farm near Eau Galle, but, dismissed the idea as foolish. As she drove on down the road, she felt compelled to stop at the Roger Weber home. Roger Weber observed the object in the sky and dismissed it as some kind of satellite. Feeling somewhat relieved, Carol got back into her car and headed out the driveway, but as she drove, the object appeared to attempt to land in front of her. Her fear for her children’s safety prompted her to back up the Weber’s driveway...honking the horn as she drove. The object rose above the tree tops and remained there. In an attempt to get the Forster family into the shelter of his house, Roger Weber drove his car between their car and the unidentified object. The object did not come down again, but, was still visible. It was said to look like two saucers that had been put together; it was white and had lights that glowed orange. Carol said the lights were not very intense, so they could see the stick-like “legs” that protruded from the bottom. She said it was about the size of a car, but more circular.
At the time, Carol Forster was hesitant to tell anyone about her encounter. However, she found that there had been several similar sightings in the area in recent weeks.
The next publicized sighting was in 1975 when police officer, George Wheeler had his first encounter with an unidentified flying object. He said he saw a “flaming ball the size of a football field,” in the skies over Elmwood. After this sighting, he made sure to have a camera and field glasses in his car, in case of a repeat performance. George said, “I’m dying to get another chance at seeing one.” His second chance came in April of 1976.
George was on duty April 22, 1976, when he noticed a bright glow on the horizon near Elmwood’s old town quarry. Thinking it was a fire, he went to investigate. As he approached the area he could clearly see an odd ship hovering in the night sky. It had several windows, and he could see shadowy figures moving past them. He described it as being about 250 feet across and as tall as a two-story building. Officer Wheeler got on his police radio and attempted to call in what he was seeing. The object began to ascend, emitting a blue light that apparently caused his car and radio to go dead. Later, all he remembered was being rousted in the car by a passing motorist who was asking if he was OK. Upon inspection, the squad car needed a change of plugs and points; both had been burned out. George Wheeler’s personal health suffered after the incident.
The area received national attention from the “Minneapolis Star Tribune,” stories in the the “St. Paul Pioneer Press,” an appearance on “The Geraldo Show,” and a write-up by New York Times best selling author, Howard Blum in his book, “Out There: The Government’s Secret Quest for Extraterrestrials.”
The “Minneapolis Star Tribune” said of Carol Forster, “...she is someone who clearly felt she was telling the truth.”
In February of 1988, Carole Forster was invited to New York for a taping of the “Geraldo Show.” Accompanying her were, Roger Weber, corroborating witness to her encounter; Doris Wheeler, widow of police officer George Wheeler; and Larry Feiler, the mayor and village president of Elmwood. They were to be featured on the show with Tom Weber, of Chippewa Falls, an eccentric entrepreneur who was trying to raise money for a UFO landing site in Elmwood. They were treated unkindly and exposed to public ridicule and humiliation. Attempts to obtain a copy of the episode have been unsuccessful. The idea of a UFO landing site eventually fizzled out due to a lack of funding and enthusiasm.
In the mid-1970’s there were 30 reports of UFO sightings in the Elmwood area. Rick Sailer, a local businessman, was quoted as saying, “The people who had seen these things were decent people. I think we believe in it – have to, to a certain degree.” Local school teacher, Doloris Radtke echoed that sentiment with “I knew everyone of the people who said they had seen something. All they knew was they had seen something strange, and in most cases it had scared them.” There is an interactive state map of UFO reports by county at http://ufowisconsin.com. It’s a good resource.
The folks of Elmwood don’t dispute the stories, rather, they embrace them. So, how did the yearly celebration come to be called “UFO Days?” I spoke to Doloris Radtke and she said she had been appointed to the village board in the 70’s, the first woman ever to hold that position in town. She was put to the task of bringing together a community celebration. A contest was set up for area folks to give a name to the event. A $50 reward was offered for the best idea. One of her students, Randy Heubner, came up with the idea of incorporating the UFO sightings into the yearly gathering. Since 1978, the annual “UFO Day,” has grown with lots of activities and camraderie. And Elmwood proudly bears the title of “UFO Capital of the Wisconsin.” Whether you believe in close encounters of the third kind or not, celebrating UFO Days with the folks of Elmwood can be a great time.
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