Drama club claims responsibility for UFO sightings in Pottsville

Republican Herald, Pennsylvania/April 30, 2010

The flying objects in the skies above Pottsville on Tuesday night have been identified.

Barbara Gough, Ashland, the club adviser for the Theater Arts Group at Nativity BVM High School in Pottsville, said they were "Thai Wish" lanterns launched by the group.

"On Tuesday night, after the cast of 'The Pajama Game' cleaned up the stage, we decided to start a new tradition. We wanted to have a really nice send-off for our senior drama students. I had the underclassmen each choose a senior. I told them to write a wish for that senior. Once it got dark, we all went outside and each pair of students got a Thai Wish lantern," Gough said.

Tammy Yotsko, Pottsville, was there with her daughter, Shelby, a sophomore.

Gough said she ordered the lanterns online.

"Each underclassman told their wish to the senior and then launched their lantern," Gough said.

She said the lanterns were made of paper and that each was about 3 feet high.

"The paper is on a circular frame. In the center of the frame is some kind of a fuel. You just light it with a match. It catches on fire and then the heat from the fire expands the lantern. When it gets really full, you let it go and it floats up into the air, and they're about 99 percent biodegradable, too. It looked really beautiful," Gough said.

"It was a beautiful night. The wind was just perfect to carry them over the top of the hills," Gough said.

Meanwhile, the Schuylkill County Communications Center received several calls Tuesday about unidentified flying objects above Pottsville, according to center director Scott Krater.

The lanterns were launched about 8:15 p.m. By 8:45 p.m., the group of about 30 people there were greeted by Pottsville police, according to Yotsko.

"All of a sudden I saw cops coming and wondered, 'Wow, what's going on?' " Yotsko said.

Her daughter said, "It's probably because of these things."

"They just looked around to make sure everything was all right and then they left," Yotsko said.

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