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UFO? Readers shoot down speculation
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It’s a bird.

It’s a plane.

No it’s…

What is that illuminated thing flying up over the top of my house?

That’s a question that a lot of Manteca residents asked on New Year’s Eve when they stepped outside and saw the strange sight of what appeared to be illuminated orbs floating through the night sky.

They were definitely flying objects. But whether they were unidentifiable or not depending on who was looking at them – the same strange lights were reported as far south as Hollywood and as far north as Sacramento.

Several Bulletin readers were able to get a good look at them and most believe that they were nothing more than a series of floating luminaries – wish lanterns – that were being raised progressively over the course of several minutes as the clock approached midnight.

“I saw them too – they were definitely luminaries,” wrote Michelle Andreetta. “I even said, ‘Imagine if those are UFOs,’ because they totally were not UFOs. I even watched one flame out.”

Deanna Uecker said that she didn’t get the chance to snap a picture, but noted that with “100 percent confidence” the lights were luminaries.

“One flew right over us and there was no mistaking what it was.”

And apparently there was more than one source.

Alicia Rybicki-Cook said that several Manteca families were letting them go as part of the New Year celebration, and noted that they were a “beautiful” addition to the evening. Some Manteca residents opted to fire off illegal fireworks, but reader “Sean-A-Thon” said that he knew a few people that were involved and there was no need to worry about extraterrestrial beings.

“They were luminaries. I wasn’t part of that, but I know someone who was so I know positively without a doubt that they were luminaries,” he wrote. “I saw the lighting of pictures.”

Residents in Stockton, Sacramento and Auburn all reported that they saw strange lights in the sky just before or just after midnight on New Year’s Eve. Those same strange looking lights were also filmed floating over the Hollywood hills in a video that was posted on YouTube.

The footage, as well as the stories that were reported to various Northern California news outlets, kicked off a flurry of Internet stories that stretched all the way to E! Online – the popular entertainment news outlet with a television channel by the same name.

Luminaries use hot air from a candle or interior flame to elevate themselves into the sky.