Happy World UFO Day! 5 notable UFO sightings in Illinois history

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Happy World UFO Day!

The quirky holiday has been observed on July 2 — roughly corresponding with the date of the reported UFO crash in Roswell, N.M. — since 2001 to “celebrate the existence of UFO’s and extra terrestrial [sic] life,” according to its official website. Those celebrations include watching for unidentified flying objects in the skies, starting conversations about the possibility of extraterrestrial life and inviting aliens to make contact via meditation or other forms of communication, it said.

More than one-third (36 percent) of Americans believe that UFOs exist and more than one in 10 (11 percent), that they have seen one, according to a 2012 study by the National Geographic Channel. Already this year, more than 4,100 UFO sightings have been reported to the Mutual UFO Network, or MUFON, a spokesman told USA Today.

And Illinois, reportedly, is a hotbed of UFO activity. The state ranks No. 7 in the country in reported sightings, according to National UFO Reporting Center data visualized by USA Today.

Here are five of the most notable UFO sightings in Illinois history:

Grayslake, 2014

The most recent sighting to capture attention in the Chicago area was just this past weekend in Grayslake: Police officers reportedly spotted a soundless, unidentified flying object with a red light over Central Park at about 9:20 p.m., before a fireworks show put on by the Grayslake Park District. Police Chief Phil Perlini told a Sun-Times Media reporter officers had joked about the object being a UFO and said it likely was some sort of drone, although he noted neither the police department nor park district has one.

via Project Blue Book

Naperville, 1962

Naperville occupies a “very prestigious place in ufology,” Diane Ladley, a local ufologist, tour guide and author of “Naperville’s Haunted Memories,” told the Naperville Sun. A 1962 sighting in the western suburb remains one of 701 unexplained cases in the U.S. Air Force’s Project Blue Book. Two Naperville women reported spotting six to eight flying red balls of light arranged in a rectangle in the sky at 11:40 p.m. on March 26, 1962, Ladley said. Over about 15 minutes, the lights reportedly came together into two brightly lit objects, she said.

Tinley Park, 2004

The “Tinley Park Lights” — three red lights spotted over both Tinley Park and Oak Park — were a series of five sightings on the night of on Oct. 31, 2004, and other dates. The lights were reported by hundreds of witnesses and are regarded among the best-documented UFO sightings. Earlier this year, MUFON said it would like to reopen the investigation into the incident for the 10-year anniversary of the Tinley Park Lights.

O’Hare International Airport, Chicago, 2006

Airport employees reported a saucer-like object over Concourse C of the United terminal at O’Hare International Airport on Nov. 7, 2006. It hovered for several minutes before reportedly shooting into the sky, leaving what looked like a hole in the clouds, those witnesses told the Chicago Tribune. The sighting has gained notoriety as the airline and Federal Aviation Administration initially denied the incident — until the Tribune filed a Freedom of Information Act request and the FAA confirmed a call from a United supervisor to an air traffic control tower at O’Hare.

Highland, 2000

Just after 4 a.m. Jan. 5, 2000, five on-duty police officers reported a triangular craft moving silently just above the treetops over the towns of Highland, Dupo, Lebanon, Summerfield, Millstadt and O’Fallon in southern Illinois. The “St. Clair Triangle” sightings are notable because of the reliability of the witnesses and have been profiled widely on shows with names like “Seeing Is Believing.” But they perhaps are best known as the inspiration for “Concerning the UFO Sighting near Highland, Illinois,” the opening track to indie troubadour Sufjan Stevens’ much-loved “Illinois” album.

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