Church celebration sparks UFO sighting in Ballantyne? - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Church celebration sparks UFO sighting in Ballantyne?

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You may have to tilt your screen to see the cluster of lights. We added the square to show you where to look.   Source: Michael Brennan/Summer Rockett You may have to tilt your screen to see the cluster of lights. We added the square to show you where to look. Source: Michael Brennan/Summer Rockett

By Chris Dyches - email & LaToya Boyce - email

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -  Hundreds of people in south Charlotte saw what appeared to be strange lights floating in the air around the Ballantyne area, sparking many to believe they were seeing aliens or UFOs.

Callers bombarded the WBTV phone lines Friday night to report the strange lights. Several people claimed to see a cluster of 20 to 30 yellow/orange lights.

"The lights moved in an extravagant way, not a way you'd expect a normal aircraft to move," wrote witness Michael Brennan. "The lights frequently vanished, and re-appeared many times then disappeared."

Hoping for an explanation, we made a call to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department on Friday night.  Duty Captain John Williams said he had no knowledge of any UFOs in Ballantyne Friday night or anywhere else in Charlotte.

But the explanation could be a little more simple, a church celebration.

Members of Elevation Church were filming a preview video for their upcoming Christmas service, sending up luminaries into the sky. 

The small hot-air balloon like objects were lit and powered by fire.

"People thought they were UFO's flying over Ballantyne, that they were disappearing and reappearing, and getting all excited, calling in to the news station, and of course we got a big laugh out of it," says Larry Hubatka, creative pastor at Elevation. "It was for a series called The Highest. Christ above all things. And so we though this was a great visual to actually show things lifting up or raising up."

The luminaries, according to Tonia Bendickson former WBTV anchor and now Campus Coordinator for the Blakeney campus of the church, were released at four different times between 9:30 PM and 11 PM on Friday night from the Morrison YMCA, the same time the "strange lights" were seen in the area.

"The video shoot involved hundreds of Elevation families, volunteers and friends at the Morrison YMCA all dressed up for the holidays," Bendickson told WBTV. "[We wanted] to capture the excitement of our upcoming Christmas series called, 'The Highest'."

That series begins at Elevation church in two weeks.

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