It’s been almost 50 years since Calvin Parker and Charles Hickson burst through the doors of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department and frantically described their story of being plucked from the bank of the Pascagoula River by creatures from another world.
On Oct. 11, 1973, Parker and Hickson were fishing off a pier on the west bank of the river near the railroad track in Pascagoula. They claim that at about 9 p.m., they saw a hazy blue light surrounding a 30-foot-long, 10-foot-high, football-shaped craft with a small dome on top and three extraterrestrial beings levitating in front of them.
Suddenly, both men felt paralyzed, and the bulky creatures grabbed them with mitten-shaped or possibly crab-like claws. One had no neck with gray wrinkled skin, like an elephant, while another had a neck and appeared more feminine. The beings with bullet-shaped heads, carrot-like noses and ears, and slits for mouths, glided them toward the vessel.
Once inside the craft, both men were examined by some sort of large, robotic eye that buzzed about while making a sound that resembled an alligator humming during mating season. Then, just as quickly, they were quietly returned to the riverbank.
If you’ve lived in the Magnolia State for any length of time, you’ve heard the story at least once.
Journalists spotlighted the alien abduction tale on local, national, and global media outlets. Movies were made about the encounter and books were written with detailed descriptions and artist renditions. Astronomers and pioneering UFOlogists chimed in with thoughts on alien abduction.
Late-night talk show hosts sought Hickson and Parker as guests. Some of those shows Hickson did appear on. Preachers gave sermons about the impact on mankind. Grandparents told their grandkids not to play in the woods after sunset because aliens could hide in the brush to snatch children. People meticulously covered the windows of their homes with layers of aluminum foil to keep the aliens from melting their brains or reading their thoughts.
The 1973 Ocean Springs Board of Aldermen even passed an ordinance instructing residents not to harm the aliens if they landed in the neighboring city. Firing a gun at the creatures was strictly prohibited and people were advised to treat the otherworldly beings with a friendly and welcoming nature. Maybe offer the extraterrestrials a cool, crisp glass of sweet, iced tea.
Believers flooded into Pascagoula by the thousands, wrapped in tinfoil and sitting all night on the hoods of their cars, eagerly awaiting visitors from another world.
And no one was joking about any of it. People were simultaneously scared and intrigued.
Whether you believed Parker and Hickson’s story then or you believe it now — it has always been taken seriously and it’s even referred to by many as the most credible alien encounter in U.S. history. In June 2019, a historical marker was placed on the riverbank where Hickson and Parker said the encounter happened and the display states the event remains the “best-documented case of alien abduction.” Parker was there for the dedication, but sadly, Hickson died in 2011.
And now, the upcoming 50-year milestone will earnestly be marked and celebrated on Oct. 20 from 5-8 p.m. in downtown Pascagoula with the “Out of this World Festival” hosted by Main Street Pascagoula. The annual event promises alien flare and exotic costumes, heavenly food, lively music, and otherworldly activities for children. The festivity is meant to embrace the alien abduction as part of the Flagship City’s heritage.
So, what did happen on that fateful October night in 1973?
After their encounter, both Hickson, who was 42 at the time and a well-known community member, and Parker, who was 19, stormed the sheriff’s office at about 11 p.m. They vividly told then-Sheriff Fred Diamond and then-Capt. Glenn Ryder, they had just been abducted by aliens. Each had a puncture wound in one arm and both Hickson and Parker later passed polygraph tests.
Diamond noted the men were visibly shaken but decided to test Hickson’s and Parker’s motives by leaving them alone in an interrogation room, which was equipped with a voice-activated, hidden recording device.
Even alone, they stuck to their story, which has never once wavered in almost 50 years. The secret recording revealed they were traumatized, concerned for family members and close friends, and had no intentions of deceiving anyone. The pair discussed visiting their doctors and pondered if anyone would believe them.
Ryder said he was hesitant to believe their story at first, but listening to the recording led him to believe something did happen to them.
Hickson wrote a book and self-published it in 1983. He was known to set up a card table outside local businesses to sell copies of UFO Contact at Pascagoula and would tell people the aliens still contacted him telepathically now and then. He would add that only 10 people in the world had telepathic capabilities to speak with the aliens. In 2018, Parker published Pascagoula-The Closest Encounter: My Story. Both books reflect the abduction tale just as Hickson and Parker illustrated their story to authorities that night in 1973.
In recent years, a couple of dozen witnesses have emerged with reports of UFO sightings about the same time as Hickson and Parker made their claim. The reports include a man seeing a large craft floating over the river from the cab of a crane while he worked that night. A couple reported seeing a large vessel with a blue flashing light flying low over the river as they drove over a bridge. Another couple stated they were on the east bank when they saw blue lights glowing across the river, and a grey creature in the water.
Now, what do you think? Are there such things as aliens? Do extraterrestrial abductions actually happen? Do you believe the story Hickson and Parker have both told for almost 50 years?
Let us know what you think in the comments on our Facebook page and tinfoil hats are optional.
Photos and artworks are courtesy of the Hinds Community College‘s Paranormal Mississippi Case File Archive.