According to news sources, the sightings were concentrated in the towns of Hanover Township, Morristown, Morris Plains, Madison, and Florham Park. The Hurley family in Whippany, New Jersey, captured images of a bizarre object in the sky and contacted WCBSTV.com. In the words of Cindy Hurley:
“It was unsettling for sure. It was something you've never seen before, and a very strange pattern."
Eleven-year-old Kristin Hurley was actually the first family member to spot the group of three lights in a cluster, and two lights right behind them in the horizon through the trees. She told the press:
“I looked up outside. I was really scared and saw five red lights.”
Paul Hurley, a pilot who works at Morristown Airport, was one of several people who e-mailed WCBSTV.com after witnessing the lights. He is positive that whatever they were, they weren’t planes. He told CBS 2:
“I've been in aviation for 20 years and have never seen anything like it.”
Hurley telephoned the Morristown Airport control tower, where the strange lights had also been spotted. They caused no interference with flight operations and many believe that the lights were nothing more than a prank; roadside flares attached to helium balloons. The only problem with this is the unsettling fact that there were no reports of any balloons recovered, and if they were balloons, police don’t know who might have released them and for what purpose.
Two Morristown residents, Joe Rudy and Chris Russo, also noticed the strange red lights while driving along Hanover Avenue in Morris Plains, New Jersey. They recorded several videos and took many still photos of the event, all of which were posted on news stations, websites, blogs, and YouTube.
The first of seven 911 calls to the Hanover Township police came at 8:28 on the night of January 5.
One caller said:
“The lights look like flares attached to balloons."
Still another said:
“It like, it took off, very strange. Red lights in the sky over the Morristown-Morris Township area, 5 red lights in a weird pattern over the area.”
Neighboring police departments also received numerous phone calls regarding the strange configuration of lights. Morristown Police Lt. Jim Cullen alerted Morristown Airport about a possible hazard to airplanes and some airport control tower workers reported seeing the lights in the sky, but could not determine what they were. Hanover Township police also contacted the Morristown Airport in an attempt to track the unknown objects on radar, but they were unsuccessful. The Morristown police department stated the lights were most likely helium balloons attached to road flares. According to Police Lt. James Cullen:
“We are reasonably certain, from what we were able to observe that they were red flares attached to a balloon.”
A Hanover Township health officer, George Van Orden, claimed that he saw the lights while he was walking his dog in Madison, New Jersey, at precisely 8:38 pm on the night in question. He told police that he did not believe they were flares because they didn’t leave trails. He also said that they seemed to oddly move against the wind.
In his own words:
“These things were moving fast, holding formation, and then moving in three different directions. I don’t know what it was.”
The Federal Aviation Administration told CBS 2 news that with the exception of laser lights and weather balloons, there is no regulation on releasing balloons or lights into the sky. To make matters even more mysterious, this unidentified aerial event happened more than once in the same area. The strange red lights made appearances over various parts of Morris County on four more occasions after the January 5 incident, garnering media attention after every occurrence. The subsequent sightings took place on January 26, January 29, February 7, and February 17th.
The largest cluster of lights occurred on the last occurrence (February 17). Nine red lights were reported to be traveling in formation. Shortly after that sighting, Capt. Jeff Paul, a spokesman for Morris County Prosecutor Robert A. Bianchi, said that federal authorities have expressed concern that the objects might be a threat to flights on their final approach to Newark Liberty International Airport. The lights appeared to be traveling north at an altitude of about 2,500 feet.
There are some plausible and different explanations of these weird lights. Some claim they are extraterrestrial craft, supernatural and/or spiritual phenomena, and others are more of this world:sky lanterns released during a celebration, helicopters carrying cargo, a surveillance blimp, a secret military project, or an elaborate hoax.
Between 1947 and 2001, Morristown, New Jersey, has been the site of numerous UFO sightings of different sizes and shapes. The problem is that these lights were seen. That makes them kind of like that old elephant in the living room. Speculation after speculation cannot alter the unsettling and highly disturbing fact that no one of this earth can say exactly what these lights are and…what they want from us.
Sleep well, dear reader.