It is a major YouTube hit that is making international headlines — a sighting of an Unidentified Flying Object over Vancouver’s Nat Bailey stadium during September 3rd game by Vancouver Canadians.
Turns out it was not all in people’s imaginations, but a sneaky marketing move by the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre — designed to attract attention to the new and improved centre.
The UFO, which is actually a drone designed to resemble the shape of the space centre — has been sighted around Vancouver since August 27 and was spotted in Deep Cove, Jericho Beach, Burrard Street Bridge and downtown Vancouver. But, the recent sightings at Nat Bailey stadium is what made it go viral.
A video showing a space ship looking object hovering near the stadium has over 200,000 views on YouTube.
YouTube videos shot by other baseball fans are also making the rounds on the Internet.
Hashtag #luckyUFO is being used on Twitter to talk about the sightings because the ‘UFO appearances’ coincided with two wins by Vancouver Canadians, the last of which led the team to the Northwest League Championship.
— John Hall (@bcadstrategy) September 10, 2013
— KayDee (@kdkeitel) September 4, 2013
#luckyUFO has to be the craziest video I have ever seen. You see a UFO just as clear as everything else my mind is 💣
— Mike Celeberly (@mikeberly02) September 9, 2013
— Charlie Caskey (@CharlieCaskey) September 4, 2013
The centre underwent a half million dollar upgrade this summer and has seen its attendance numbers go up 65 per cent in the month of August.
“We are a fully digital video system now. We have jumped from 70’s technology to state-of-the-art,” says MacMillan’s executive director Rob Appleton.
The hoax was just another way to let the public know about the improvements.
“The point was to break through all the clutter in the world and to say we have a new digital planetarium,” says Appleton.
The video went from a 100,000 views yesterday morning to over 200,000 views today, which Appleton says was a surprise to them.
“In our heyday, word of mouth was a big thing. Now, it is much better with social media. This has gone way beyond what we expected would happen. And that is the unpredictability of social media. Either it will go or it won’t. From my point of view, it just really took off.”
Appleton says while the drone was just a meter in diameter and was remotely controlled, public safety was an important priority for them.
“They were originally going to fly it over the fireworks and things like that. But then [we decided] — no people, no water. The Canadians game was across the street… and they only flew it up and down. They did not fly it over the road or anything. It appeared in the outfield over the trees.”
The UFO remained a mystery to many — including Vancouver Canadians — until the centre decided to go public with it today.
“We had no clue about it, what-so-over,” says Rob Fai with Vancouver Canadians. “We knew it was not real, but nobody actually came to us with anything. We just saw a huge amount of media covering this UFO. It really drew the attention of the crowd.”
Fai says many members of the audience noticed it right away.
“It’s got the attention of everybody in the ballpark. And then it went away, as quickly as it came.”