UFOs, OOPAs and other weird stuff were the order of the day Thursday morning at the Morton-James Public Library.
Ray Boeche of Lincoln presented “Weird Nebraska” to the library’s tween summer readers (and a few tweens at heart) in the Kimmel Gallery.
Boeche, a Nebraska City native, told the audience he has been “looking into weird stuff for about 50 years.”
He showed photos and news clippings about unusual occurrences around the state, including unidentified flying objects (UFOs), out of place animals (OOPAs), a blob, Bigfoot sightings, and larger birds that have also been described as pterodactyls. Many were reported right here in Otoe County.
Boeche said while about 90 percent of the UFO sightings in Nebraska can be explained or later identified, between 5 to 10 percent can’t be explained.
“They’re fascinating to study,” he said.
UFOs can be divided into two main groups: soft objects, which are often lights in the sky, and hard objects, which are definable shapes, including saucers, cigars, cubes and pyramids.
Boeche showed the audience a copy of the first color photo of a UFO, which was taken in Tulsa, Okla., in October 1965.
He then showed a 1965 photo of an unexplained light that hovered over the Missouri River near Nebraska City for several consecutive nights in 1965 and were reported by residents of Scenic Drive.
Boeche also talked about a 1984 event he investigated west of Nebraska City that involved a bright pink saucer-shaped object that was reported as a helicopter by one Otoe County sheriff’s deputy, an airplane by a Johnson County sheriff’s deputy and a biplane by a Douglas County deputy.
When authorities later checked with Offutt Air Force Base and local airports, Boeche said no planes were in the sky over this part of Nebraska at the time of the reports.
From UFOs, the discussion turned to airships, which began to be reported across the country around 1897, long before dirigibles were built, said Boeche.
He showed the audience a news clipping that reported an experience Peru farmer James Southard had touring such a craft in 1897.
Southard met the craft’s crew, said Boeche, and had all his questions answered.
The crew told Southard they were headed to Havana to bomb the Spanish navy before the craft took off, he said.
The discussion next turned to OOPAs, which included reports of a kangaroo seen from Grand Island to Fairbury in 1958.
Boeche said that authorities checked with zoos in the area, as well as with circuses that traveled through that part of the state, but no kangaroos were reported missing.
Another OOPA case is that of the Ceresco Lion, which was reported in 1951 and 1957. Again, Boeche said authorities could find no instances of a lion escaping from a zoo or circus.
Along with the lion reports were reports of a black panther, some of which were reported in  Dunbar, Falls City and Burr in 1965.
Boeche said that there are no records of melanistic (black) cougars, so the black panthers are also unexplained.
Boeche touched briefly on the subject of blobs. A Nebraska City couple reported encountering a blob on a dirt road north of town in 1970. It was described as being about 8 to 10 feet across and about 2 feet high.
“The man got out of the car to take a look,” said Boeche, “and when it turned toward him, they got out of there.”
Boeche then spoke about Bigfoot and showed a man of Nebraska with about 60 dots on it that marked reported sightings, three of which were in Otoe County.
Boeche considers the “whole question of Bigfoot a fascinating one.” He told the audience that both the Omaha and Lakota speak of the “Hairy Man,” as do the Salish of Montana.
Boeche wrote a book about the Salish Hairy Man stories and was told by a member of the tribe, “When you see the Hairy Man, you die. We don’t go looking for him.”
Bigfoot-like creatures have been reported in Ravenna in 1959,and  in Lincoln in 1980.
Before opening the floor to questions, Boeche told the audience about the giant bird reports received from Minersville over the years.
He said his grandfather, who was born in the 1890s, told him that Minersville was a place to avoid because of the number of reports of strange occurrences there.
The next tween program at the library will be a presentation by Kent Schwartz on the Nebraska City murals.
Schwartz’s talk will begin at 10 a.m. Thursday, July 27, in the Kimmel Gallery.