Hundreds of people were expected to gather Saturday at a UFO port in southwestern France to celebrate what could be a highly lucrative investment -- the expansion of landing facilities for flying saucers.
The festivities in the town of Ares are a prelude to the installation of lights and windsocks, which locals hope will guide aliens to Earth from outer space.
The UFO port was opened in 1976 after a vote by local councilmen -- reportedly amid much laughter. A triangular seafront esplanade was set aside for unidentified flying objects and a marble slab with a message of welcome to "all travelers from the Universe" was put in place.
The councilmen also passed a law exempting aliens from local taxes and authorized them to participate in French boule tournaments.
As of yet no UFOs were spotted in Ares, but the ’1,000 ($1,300) it cost to build the port has, in the interim, placed the town of 5,500 inhabitants firmly on the global map, at least among alien enthusiasts, with lucrative results. As many as 20,000 tourists visit Ares every year; some wanted photographs taken near the UFO port while others were sci-fi buffs keen to soak up the atmosphere.
"The reactions are sometimes very serious," said Jean-Guy Perriere, the town's mayor.’One American wrote in the 1980s to congratulate the council and express his anger at President Reagan for failing to do the same thing,"
Oysters and white wine were to be offered Saturday at a seafront buffet for the more traditional UFO aficionados, along with dishes using the techniques of molecular gastronomy for those with a more futuristic approach to food.
The highlight was said to be the inauguration of a metal artwork representing UFOs on the landing strip. "That way aliens won't feel lonely when they land," said the chairman of the local tourist office, Christian Esplandiu.