SHEFFIELD, Mass. (NEWS10) -- It was a big deal for the tiny town of Sheffield, Massachusetts when hundreds of people reported something unusual in the sky. Could it be alien visitors? A half a century later, people are still talking about it.
The idea of flying saucers first landed in the 1940s and has invaded popular culture ever since. There’s been countless reported sightings, but only one has made it into state historical records.
“I think there’s something out there. I believe,” said Kathy Silliker.
“Something happened here and it’s not something you can make up,” said Judge Kevin Titus.
Labor Day 1969.
“So we were coming out of that bridge,” explained Thom Reed.
The then 9-year-old was in the backseat of his mom’s station wagon when the family saw a glowing orb. Then, hovering three stories above a corn field…
“It was massive; it was like metallic," Reed said. "I know how crazy it sounds but I sat there. I saw it myself."
He describes it as a giant turtle shell. His mom pulled off into a clearing, and then came a period of time no one can account for.
“You know, we have weird memories of that night and when we came to, if you will, my mother and grandmother were reverse in the car and the car was off,” said Reed.
Fifty years later, Reed remains embedded in the paranormal world, sharing his story on TV shows like Ancient Aliens and building up the park dedicated to his encounter.
A 5,000 cement marker memorializes the “off world incident” as both “historically significant and true.” It's complete with the signature of Governor Charlie Baker. The formal recognition came from the Great Barrington Historical Society in 2015. It was a decision then-director Debbie Oppermann later called a “mistake” and a “professional embarrassment.” Today, the society is run by Robert Krol.
“Something happened, which is true and remarkable that something happened because so many people reported it as something happening. but what it is, we don’t know,” said Krol.
It wasn’t until the morning after the alleged encounter when the Reed family realized, they weren’t alone.
“WSBS radio got panic calls, people calling saying ‘my god, something is going on here,’ what you think happened?” said Judge Kevin Titus.
He signed and sealed the records by the governor and the historical society, declaring them uncontested lawful documents. But the alleged encounter and the park itself are not without controversy.
The town of Sheffield last year ordered the massive marker be moved because of its proximity to a public pathway. Reed says the land belongs to a farmer who he rents it from. The town has gone quiet on the dispute but skeptics remain.
“Why’d they bring him back if he was abducted 50 years ago?” one local jokingly asked.
Others say Reed’s unwavering story rings true.
The park is gaining support. There have been donations of stone, weeping willow trees, solar lights and benches. One of them even sponsored by Dean Haglund who played Ringo in the X-Files.
“This is kind of like for anybody that has thought they had seen something, or did see something, this is all for them,” said Kathy Silliker.
Reed says believing in aliens can leave you feeling alienated but not at this judgemental park.
“I’m going to go out on a limb and say they’re probably criticized and now they’ve got a spot that says look, you know, we never wavered. We stuck together and together and as a community we made history,” he said.