"Hi, my name is Jody Pedarvis and I welcome ya'll to earth so...lets ride around..."
The UFO Welcome Center is a tourist curiosity located in Bowman, South Carolina, built in the back yard of Jody Pendarvis. It consists of a 42-foot wide flying saucer built out of wood, fiberglass, plastic and probably a fair amount of paper-mâché.
On October 13th, 2008, two friends and I traveled an hour and a half from Florence, SC to meet Jody and visit the center. I read about Jody and his endeavor online, which stated to call and schedule a visit with him in order to receive a tour. I called him every day for three weeks straight, never receiving an answer or a call back; needless to say I was disheartened.
We arrived around 10 PM on a Monday night and discovered flashing Christmas lights and approximately 1000 stray cats in and around the center, but still no answer from Jody. We began to take a look around the perimeter of the center, but Jody’s recently acquired dog, Brutus, kept a watchful eye on us—keeping us a reasonable distance from the saucer.
Almost about to leave, I made one final call to Jody, his phone’s ringer could be heard from where we were standing but alas, no answer. Then suddenly! A window opened atop the saucer and out poked the head of none other than Jody Pendarvis! I yelled to him, and asked if he was accepting visitors to which he apprehensively replied, “you never know…”, and disappeared back into his saucer.
Unsure whether to approach the center or run for our lives out of fear of being abducted, being eaten by Brutus, or worse, getting cat scratch fever, we waited for Jody to make his way out of the center’s front hatch. Out poured Jody, and 10 more cats, while Brutus stood guard. I asked if he received many visitors, he paused for a moment and asked me to clarify; “…from Earth?”
After subduing Brutus with a handful of cat food (note that he repeatedly said "Hey Brutus, wanna cookie?") we made our way towards the center and began our tour. Jody entered a key into and outside wall and tried to lower the hatch for us. Thankfully, it only took about 30 minutes. Once lowered roughly two inches from where it originally hung we entered the front room and were greeted with the inviting smell of garbage and cat urine, Jody explaining that since the centers conception in 1994, he has only seen a UFO once, in 1998.
The center was everything we thought it would be; cats, piles of old Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes boxes (his favorite cereal), old newspaper, cats, christmas lights, cats, old televisions, and cats. We met “#2”, a timid calico cat that was not yet ready to meet us (apparently, Brutus ate #1).
Mission control consisted of red plastic bowls half filled with god-knows-how-old milk (he poured a fresh bowl during our visit, it had a similiar consistancy to pudding), a brand new PC and ladders leading to different corners of the center. Jody let me take a look around his lair, complete with an old mattress, a small flat screen TV playing a black and white Richard Nixon documentary and more Christmas lights.
I ventured with Jody to the second floor of the center and he opened a window hatch for me—showing me a breathtaking view of luxurious, majestic Bowman, South Carolina. Jody was adamant that I get a shot of his “friend”, a glow-in-the-dark alien Halloween mask hanging on a nearby wall. After speaking with Jody for a bit more (a very amiable fellow, I must say) we made our way back down through mission control, said goodbye to #2 and the rest of his extended family and then finally out of the hatch.
After taking photos out front with Jody (holding Brutus in his arms so he would not be enticed to eat us) and saying our goodbyes we left Bowman, not exactly sure what we had just experienced. Next time you find yourself in downtown Bowman, be sure to give Jody a visit and tell him that you too, are a believer.
However, our co-workers later told us that walking onto the wrong property in Bowman could result in being shot at, as the locals are very protective of their trailers, mosquito lanterns and rusted lawn mowers—so be absolutely sure that you’re visiting the right UFO welcome center!
UFO Welcome Center @ RoadsideAmerica.com
UFO Welcome Center Wikipedia Page