Melvern Noll wheeled his GMC Sonoma pickup into the parking lot of Fun Land of Highland. It was 4 a.m. on Jan. 5 and dead quiet in the small Illinois town some four miles south of I-70 in Madison County. Fun Land has been Mel Noll's enterprise these last 12 years, operating for all but the winter months, offering the folks of Highland wholesome diversion with its miniature-golf course, go-kart track and video games. Noll, 66, coming off an overnight run to Bloomington -- he's also a part-time truck driver -- had stopped at his business on the way home that frigid morning, worried that the pipes might freeze. He stepped out of his pickup and started toward the office/snack bar/arcade room when something caught his eye. "I happened to look toward the northeast," he says in a down-home country dialect, "and seen, like, a bright star and never thought too much about it, just 'That's awful low for being a star.'" He went into the office for a bit, checked the plumbing and returned to his truck: "I looked up and there it was, just like a big house floating in the air, with windows in it and a bright light on the inside, like there might've been a big... More >>>
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By Jennifer Silverberg
Millstadt Police Officer Craig Stevens tried documenting what he saw: "It was a rush. First thing that popped in my head: 'Get the Polaroid.' I ran to the trunk, grabbed the Polaroid, snapped the picture."