1947 marked the first election in the US where flying saucers played a role. It happened in Oregon, with a candidate exploiting the saucer mystery for an edge in a fierce campaign. Incredibly, it happened twice, in two different races in Oregon, the Coos Bay Pirates Regatta event in Marshfield, and at the Cottage Grove Lake Regatta in Cottage Grove. STTF’s political reporter, Claude Falkstrom, gathered the news clipping to recap the races, the election results, and in one case, the tragic collateral damage.
The Coos Bay Pirates Regatta
From Images of America: Coos Bay, by Andie E. Jensen, 2012:
“The Coos Bay Pirates were a civic group that promoted Coos Bay and North Bend. They were known for their colorful pirate costumes and high jinks in capturing civic members for a time of folly.” They sponsored an annual event, the Coos Bay Pirates Regatta.
The regatta promotion stated: “Thousands of persons will attend... a show worth seeing worth far more than the one dollar admission price... The Pirates produce this show on a non-profit basis to promote southwestern Oregon's interests.” There was a competition: “One of these lovely girls will... rule as queen of the Coos Bay Pirate regatta... Buy a regatta button and ask your Pirate Princess for instructions.”
The $1 buttons served as tickets to the event, and contestants collected “votes” for queen of the regatta by selling them. Besides a crown and a queenly prize for the winner, there was also cash and merchandise prizes for the runner-ups. The campaign began in mid-June and ended on August 1, the start of the 3-day regatta event.
Here’s pictures of the candidates, the Pirate Princesses:
The press on the story told about the coronation, the celebrity guests, the orchestra and other activities that would be featured at the gala event.
|The Coos Bay Times, June 16, 1947|
|K. Arnold sighting as depicted in Coronet Magazine, November 1952|
On June 28, Queen candidate Donna Christopherson was profiled in the newspaper.
|The Coos Bay Times, June 28, 1947|
By July 11, Donna Christopherson took the lead in the race for regatta Queen. The next day, she took flight to advertise her campaign and dropped hundreds silver discs from an airplane over Coos Bay, with the message, “Vote for Donna for Queen.”
|The Coos Bay Times, July 12, 1947|
Donna appeared in Pirate costume to promote the regatta events.
|The Coos Bay Times, July 29, 1947|
On August 1st the final results were:
3. Fern Amos, Veterans of Foreign Wars, awarded $200.
2. Donna Christopherson, Active Club, awarded $300.
1. LuRae Ball, Business & Professional Women's Club, Queen, and awarded a university scholarship.
|The Coos Bay Times, Aug. 4, 1947|
|Key Saucer Locations: Coos Bay, Cottage Grove, Mount Rainier and the Cascade Range|
The Cottage Grove Lake Regatta
Another event took place about one hundred miles away the same time, the Cottage Grove Lake Regatta. The voting for their regatta queen ran from July 13 through 26, and the votes were tallied in ballot boxes in local businesses, “one vote for each dollar received.”
|The Eugene Guard, July 12, 1947|
|The Eugene Guard, July 17, 1947|
To win further votes, Barbara dropped saucers from a plane on Saturday July 19.
Unfortunately, the disk drop resulted in a serious injuries:
|The Eugene Guard, July 19, 1947|
|The Eugene Guard, July 24, 1947|
|The Eugene Guard, July 24, 29 and, 31, 1947|
Oregon Flying Saucer Worries and Project Blue Book
As for other UFO business in the area, in the days leading up to the regatta event, some Cottage Grove residents definitely had saucers on their minds. One citizen wrote to the newspaper over concerns that discs were weapons platforms to spread poison.
|The Eugene Guard, July 13 and 27, 1947|
|The Eugene Guard, July 24, 1947|
Fred Johnson, a prospector on Mt. Adams, reported seeing five or six disc-like objects banking in the sun, but unlike Arnold’s UFOs, these saucers had tails, and their presence caused his compass needle to go wild. Unfortunately, it wasn’t reported until after the Arnold story broke, so it’s uncertain as to whether Johnson was a fraudulent copycat, or a corroborating witness to the most famous UFO sighting of all time. The Air Force’s conclusion: Unidentified.
Here’s the link the Project Blue Book file on the Fred Johnson sighting report:
Project Grudge: June 24, 1947, Portland, Oregon (Fold3)