When I was a youngster, my parents trusted my older brother to babysit me. Hank decided I would enjoy watching a horror movie with him. I sat mesmerized as grasshoppers munched grasses fertilized by radioactive waste. They immediately grew as high as Godzilla’s eye. Roaming freely in cities and town, they ate anything that moved, developing a particular fondness for human flesh. The menacing sound of their legs and antennae rubbing together signaled their arrival.
I spent the next two weeks panicked by any sound resembling the call of the Grasshopper Leader to “get the humans.” My brother spent the next two weeks grounded in his bedroom.
I overcame my lingering fear of unnatural creatures to attend the 2013 Mothman Festival in Pt. Pleasant, West Virginia. This took a great deal of courage on my part because unlike those giant grasshoppers of my youth, MOTHMAN ACTUALLY EXISTS!!!!!!
Mothman made his debut in November, 1966 at a defunct munitions factory in Pt. Pleasant. The giant creature‘s signature features are blazing, ruby red eyes and wings that measure 10’ across when open. He can achieve speeds of 100 mph. The two couples who saw him signed lengthy depositions swearing they barely escaped his wrath. Soon after this incident, dogs started disappearing and mutilated cattle started appearing. Over 100 sightings were reported and some folks swore they heard Mothman land on their roofs.
The biggest catastrophe attributed to Mothman is the collapse of the Silver Bridge in December 1967. Engineering reports attribute the disaster to a single rusted eyebar. When it cracked, the suspension bridge cables snapped, sending the bridge and dozens of cars into the Ohio River. More than 40 people died.
A witness camped near the bridge who enjoyed drinking his dinner from a brown paper bag, swore he saw Mothman right before the collapse. Certified UFOlogist John Keel said he received a call warning him to stay away from the bridge and thinks it may have been Mothman. Good thing Mr. Keel did not mistake Mothman for a telemarketing operator.
The Mothman Festival features speakers on Mothman and other spooky phenomena. Apparently, West Virginia is a hotbed of weird, cosmic events. According to one speaker, the former lunatic asylum in Weston is the largest haunted area in North America. Seneca Rocks and the former penitentiary in Moundsville also host spirits.
While imbibing Mothman margaritas (a god-awful concoction of green liquor with cherries embedded in lemon slices for eyes), my husband and I realized we had visited most of our state’s cosmic hotspots. We even spent an evening in the Moundsville penitentiary with lots of ghost hunters who were holding machines to record interdimensional shifts. Ron and I only had flashlights, as we were more worried about tripping over something in the pitch black building and ending up in the afterlife ourselves. We were accompanied by my friend Carol who considers herself something of a ghost hunter as she has seen all the episodes of “Ghost Whisperer.”
There have not been any sightings of Mothman recently but no matter. He has become a reason to visit Pt. Pleasant. The town is enduring rough times; about 1/3 of the downtown buildings are vacant. The Mothman festival attracts people from all over the United States. We met folks from Michigan, Connecticut and Ohio. Hundreds of people attended the lectures.
Mothman may be in hiding but he might come out if the local chamber of commerce honors him as businessman of the year.