Today is kind of a big deal in the community of Flatwoods, West Virginia.

That’s because today was the day in 1952 that Flatwoods first encountered the Flatwoods Monster.

The story starts with a pair of brothers, Edward and Freddie May, who were playing with their friends Tommy Hyer and Neil Nunley outside Flatwoods Elementary School just before dark.

They said they saw a bright light overhead that seemed to crash into a nearby hillside.

Before investigating further, they got some adult backup in the form of Edward and Freddie’s mom, Kathleen May, and she reached out to a local National Guard member, Eugene Lemon.

They also took the May family dog.

According to the newspapers, what this group found at the apparent crash site was beyond belief.

At first it looked like a pair of illuminated eyes in a tree.

Then, they saw what the eyes were attached to.

It was a creature with a red head, round in most areas but reaching a point at the top, sort of like a shovel.

The body was green, or at least wearing some sort of green outfit.

And the creature could float in the air; at one point it supposedly hovered past the humans and then whizzed off.

The authorities dismissed the story; they suggested that each time the humans recounted the story, the monster got taller.

But the news media picked it up, and the Flatwoods Monster was briefly a sensation all over the country.

There were several other reports of a creature showing up in and around Flatwoods, though after the mid 1950s they died down.

But even as locals were scared by the idea of a mysterious something showing up and scaring their neighbors, they were also kind of pleased that their community was now known for something.

Flatwoods was home to the Flatwoods Monster, aka the Phantom of the Flatwoods, or even Braxie, named after the surrounding Braxton County.

People in town did what people do when their town suddenly gets noticed: they started making and selling monster figurines, bumper sticks and t-shirts.

The site of the encounter became an ice cream and sandwich place that may also be a tanning parlor.

And eventually they opened the Flatwoods Monster Museum, so people who are interested in the legend, or just want to visit a unique place, could stop by and check it out for themselves.

But if you’re going, pay a visit during the day; you probably wouldn’t want to visit a museum about this monster at night.

This weekend in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, it’s The Great Sand Castle Contest.

This year’s theme for sand castle artists is time travel, so you can build anything from the area’s past.

Or (and they literally say this on the website) bribing the judges is encouraged, so make whatever you want and then buy the organizers a good meal!

Just don’t kick sand in their faces.

The Flatwoods Monster (Braxton County, WV)

The Great Sand Castle Contest

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Photo by Don Woods – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikicommons