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Petaluma mystery lights explained

Published: Thursday, August 22, 2013 at 2:02 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, August 22, 2013 at 2:02 p.m.

It looked like the Big Dipper, but the Big Dipper stays put.

Just after 9:30 Saturday night, a gliding constellation of lights in the sky prompted quite a few people to pull over and park on Petaluma Boulevard South. Jake Marble snapped pictures.

“I'm not a UFO guy,” he told PD reporter Julie Johnson for a short story she posted online. Marble didn't get as worked up as some others who took in the spectacle from the side of the road, but he could not explain what he was seeing.

The incident ignited quite the lively exchange of online comments, including a couple from people with an earthly explanation: They said they were at a wedding at the Petaluma Golf and Country Club that night and watched the launch of sky lanterns, essentially hand-held hot air balloons illegal in California.

Presumably, the newlyweds and their guests made wishes as they released the lanterns. It appears at least someone uttered, “Please don't let these airborne incendiaries set the fire that will mark the end of the world as we know it.”

See the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NR-hJSdBxUA

CRASHING DOWN: The entertaining demolition of a 13-story building at the state college in Hayward was quite the Sonoma County affair.

Santa Rosa's Dan Schell got to witness the implosion because his son, Jake, 38 and a Monty alum, is a project manager for the demolition firm, Silverado Contractors.

Among the Oakland company's principals are Sonoma Valley brother and sister Joe and Sue Capriola and Monty grad Peter Knuth.

Dan Schell said that watching Warren Hall implode was literally a blast that further assured his son that he's in the right business.

“I can still see the grin on his face,” Dan said.

MI CASA ES SU CASA: A seemingly diligent survey by airbnb.com, which hooks up tourists with stays in private homes, cottages, water towers, apartments and such, concluded there are hardly more welcoming hosts anywhere than in Mendocino County.

Airbnb rated the greater Mendocino-Fort Bragg area the No. 2 most hospitable region of the U.S., after Tampa.

A quick check of reviews by guests turned up this bit of praise by a woman who rented a 107-year-old cottage from a fellow in Albion and couldn't have left happier.

“Give me an old house with slants, creaks, and the spirits of love over a sterile, predictable place any day,” she wrote, adding that the host “honors this house in every way he can.”

IT WAS LATE AT NIGHT and Loralee Denny's wedding anniversary approached as the Santa Rosan sat and decoded the day's New York Times crossword puzzle.

She smiled sadly as she wrote in the vertical word, ASKEW. Her husband, who died two months ago from cancer, was Barry Askew.

Progressing to the horizontal words, Loralee brightened to find the W in ASKEW was the first letter in WEDS.

An anniversary message from Barry, a coincidence or nothing at all? Whichever, it made Loralee feel far better than her usual triumph with the NYT puzzle.

(Chris Smith is at 521-5211 and chris.smith@pressdemocrat.com.)

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