Celebrating Mothman

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John Keel wrote a book in 1975 called The Mothman Prophecies, about sightings of strange creatures, UFOs, and mysterious characters in and around Point Pleasant, West Virginia, culminating in the collapse of the Ohio River-spanning Silver Bridge. In 2002, it was adapted into a film starring Richard Gere. The town of Point Pleasant itself has gotten into the act, hosting its 4th annual Mothman Festival. It’s a celebration.

What is the Mothman? According to most of the sightings, it is six to seven feet tall, humanoid, headless, with great glowing eyes in its chest, and a pair of massive wings. While at first glance, it doesn’t have the cuddly appeal of Bigfoot or the serpentine grace of Nessie, Point Pleasant has been surprised at the success of embracing the local bogey.

From The Herald-Dispatch:

With a goal of jump-starting the town’s economy, the festival was originally a way to capitalize on the “Mecca of history and genealogy,” in the area, said Hilda Austin, executive director for the Mason County Area Chamber of Commerce.

Now, people from as far as New York, Canada and even England came to the town this weekend with one thing in mind — to learn about and maybe even catch a glimpse of the legendary Mothman and his “glowing red eyes,” she said.

The official website of the festival, Mothmanlives.com, has a good deal of information although the site itself is a bit hard on the eyes. You can also partake in Mothman marketing as well and pick up some monstrous merchandising including a book titled Mothman: Behind The Red Eyes. It sounds like an old Who lyric or the name of a VH1 special. They have T-shirts featuring re-imaginings of Mothman as a comic book creature. It looks like Mothman as Spiderman or Batman more than a once nightmarish interloper.

If Point Pleasant has gained a good yearly source of income for their fortean troubles, in return they are declawing the creature their festival celebrates. What was a forbidding denizen of the dark is fast becoming a sought-after spectacle. Whether this will create renewed sightings of the saucer-eyed Mothman or send him sulking off into the otherworld is anyone’s guess. Mothman lives, the website and festival say, but how long can it survive in captivity?

[Article cross-posted at The Errant Fool, here.] ed/pub:NB

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  • Nice to see this here.

    Of course, most of us who have been investigating Mothman since the 1960s realize the “Mothman” never went away, and the flap in 1966-1967 was more a media event than one related to the comings and goings of this creature. I worked with Sony/Screen Gems, doing hundreds of radio interviews in 2002, when the movie came out, and discussing the reality behind the film. In those interviews and my book Mothman and Other Curious Encounters (NY: Paraview, 2002), I stressed that what was seen then was seen 100 years ago and remains around today. A large bird-like (not moth-like, not UFO-linked) unknown (and the offspring) have inhabited the mountains and valleys of the area for a long time. The reason we all still talk about this one series of sightings is because of a newspaper’s name (Mothman) and the brilliant prose of John A. Keel.

    Now we have Mark Pellington to add to the chroniclers of the Mothman lore. The legend does live on.

    Best wishes and watch the skies.
    Loren Coleman

  • RJ

    Pretty cool post. Thanks! 🙂

  • Well, I have to say that I thought the movie was somewhat interesting a kinda creepy thriller.

    It would be interesting to see how this festival works out for the town. Maybe this will have to be added to my “Town Festivals of the weird” tour that I will have to do some day…