They Came From Pine Bush

For close to 90 years, observers in this Orange County town have been spotting objects in the night sky that defy explanation


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Strangers in the Night

May 6, 1995. A sliver of moon presides over a clear, cloudless sky. On the fringes of the Town of Crawford in Orange County — a sparsely populated expanse of farmland and woods bounded by Wallkill, Walden, Bullville, and, famously, Pine Bush — the sky is particularly dark. It’s a perfect night for gazing up at the stars — and whatever else may be out there.

C. Burns, a 25-year-old resident of central New Jersey, decides to ride out to Pine Bush to see what the fuss is all about. It’s his first visit to the area. After driving aimlessly for awhile, he stumbles upon West Searsville Road, where die-hard skywatchers tend to gather. Cars are parked on both sides of the street. By chance, the first person he encounters is Vincent Polise, 23, also from New Jersey and a regular visitor to Pine Bush.

Almost immediately, they spot some glowing lights in the distance. “Let’s take a closer look,” Polise says. “Follow me.” The two of them drive north, make a right on Hill Road, and a quick left into a cul-de-sac. And there, rising over the woods, they see something neither of them had ever seen before.

“It looked like a Ferris wheel on fire,” Polise recalls, adding that it was multicolored, with sparks coming off it like a firecracker. Burns remembers it differently. “It was a beautiful, even arc,” he says, ”deep red, and totally silent.” Whatever it was, it hung there in the quiet night for a moment, as if revealing itself solely for their benefit, and then descended back into the ground.

Polise has witnessed strange things over these woods since he started coming here in 1992, but nothing that approached this. As for Burns, this is the paranormal equivalent of hitting a hole-in-one on the first trip to the golf course.

When they rejoin the group on West Searsville Road, they learn that there was a sighting there, too: a pair of what seemed to be giant headlights, zooming high above the road from the south — in the opposite direction of where Burns and Polise had driven — and then vanishing without a trace. But no one else had seen what they had witnessed.

This was not an airplane. It wasn’t a helicopter. And it sure wasn’t that well-worn official explanation for such sightings, a weather balloon. What they saw was, strictly speaking, an unidentified flying object — a UFO.

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