ROSWELL, New Mexico — The federal government’s recent landmark UFO study failed to offer the clear answers many hoped for.
In fact, Joyce Rowell was left with the same question she’s always had.
“Why don’t they tell us the truth?” Ms. Rowell, 75, said Friday as she and her daughter, Debra Tucker, searched for the next clue on an alien-themed scavenger hunt inside a cozy coffeehouse in downtown Roswell.
Ms. Rowell and Ms. Tucker, 52, traveled here from Tecumseh, Oklahoma, for the city’s annual UFO Festival, which has drawn a record crowd this year amid skyrocketing public interest in the subject and the release last week of the government’s widely anticipated unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) report.
Inside Roswell’s Stellar Coffee Co. — which boasts the “Spock Special,” “Martian Sunrise” and “Alien Soda” among its menu offerings — Ms. Tucker said she remains open-minded to all possibilities, including that at least some UFO sightings could be connected to extraterrestrial life.
“I definitely think it could be true,” she said. “I haven’t ever seen one but I think it’s definitely possible. There’s so much out there we don’t know about.”
Ms. Tucker and Ms. Rowell are among the thousands who came to Roswell this weekend for the seemingly endless agenda of alien-themed concerts, games, outdoor movie showings, yoga, and a host of other events. But beneath the family-friendly atmosphere are serious questions about just how much information the government is withholding from the American people.
The recent UAP report, released by the Pentagon and Office of the Director of National Intelligence, examined 144 military encounters with unidentified craft and could only explain one, which was believed to be a deflating balloon.
UFOs, the study said, could represent a major national security threat to the U.S. and may involve so-called “breakthrough technologies” that cannot be explained using today’s scientific knowledge.
While the document didn’t rule out extraterrestrials, it also raised the possibility that the craft could be high-tech Chinese or Russian vehicles or weapons. For Roswell festival-goers and professional researchers alike, that explanation is absurd.
“These objects can hover at 80,000 feet for hours on end. We can’t do that. They can drop in a couple of seconds to 20,000 feet and hover there, and then they can descend to 50 feet above the churn of the ocean and bounce back and forth like a ping pong ball. We can’t do that,” said author, researcher and social scientist Kathleen Marden, one of the UFO experts speaking this weekend at the city’s International UFO Museum and Research Center.
“They have aerodynamic capabilities that, as far as we know, no one on this planet can replicate,” she told The Washington Times in an interview. “If people want to explain that away as Russia or China, then why haven’t they invaded? Why haven’t they decided to rule the world?”
The government report offers little detail on those questions. It merely offers the theory that at least some of the craft are “foreign adversary systems.”
The Pentagon is in the early stages of revamping the reporting and data-collection systems around UFO sightings in the hopes of gaining a better understanding of the phenomenon, government officials said.
Those high-stakes questions serve as the backdrop for this weekend’s festival. Many in attendance say they made the trip to New Mexico partly because of their fascination with the paranormal and partly because the event offered a unique summer vacation.
Carla Smith, 33, came here from Austin, Texas, and said the questions she has about extraterrestrials — especially the possibility that the beings can travel via consciousness, not through the traditional physical domain — are becoming more common and are no longer laughed off.
“People are open to it, which is the first step to anything, learning more about it, being open to it,” she said.
Ms. Smith and her best friend, Liz Keneski, 34, donned costumes for the festival, dressing up as waitresses from the cult-favorite TV show “Roswell.” Hundreds of other men, women and children followed suit with costumes of their own, reflecting how UFOs have found a permanent spot in mainstream pop culture.
“Now it’s cool to believe in it,” Ms. Smith told The Times.
• Ben Wolfgang can be reached at email@example.com.
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