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If you haven’t seen the news in the Panhandle recently, a television crew has descended on Northwest Florida now in search of the legendary skunk ape, or Bigfoot as he’s more widely known. Just so we’re all clear, I don’t believe in Bigfoot and I think the Animal Planet producers are probably a few worms short of a full can.
Of course I also don’t believe in teenage wizards, but that didn’t keep the Harry Potter series from raking in billions of dollars. That’s why I’ve been rethinking my opinion about all this recent Finding Bigfoot hoo-ha. I’m starting to believe it might just be a wonderful opportunity for Liberty County and the surrounding area.
Just look at Roswell, New Mexico. It’s the kind of place that even tumbleweeds normally avoid. Yet every year thousands of people flock to that town, hoping to get a glimpse of a UFO. Why? Because a news story from the 1940s about the crash of a supposed alien spacecraft and the presence of the government’s mysterious Area 51 research facility.
All it takes nowadays is the occasional grainy photo or shaky video to keep people coming back there year after year. Sure they’re nuts, but their money’s green and the people of Roswell are probably singing as they roll wheelbarrows full of tourist dollars to the bank.
So, here’s my idea: Let’s just go with this whole Sasquatch-in-the-Panhandle idea. All we really need to do is carve out a remote spot in Torreya State Park – well away from the environmentally sensitive areas, of course – and set up a Bigfoot observation center.
I’m pretty sure the Park Service would go along with the idea, given that it would bring in more visitors. And the other business possibilities are endless: campgrounds, restaurants, souvenir shops and motels, just to name a few. Plus, visitors who travel here to see Bigfoot probably would be gullible enough to buy anything else we wanted to sell them.
So, what happens when they don’t meet the magical creature? Ha! Don’t worry about that. Everyone will see something. Nobody’s going to travel hundreds or thousands of miles only to go back home and tell their friends, “Well, we sure are suckers.”
Nope. Instead they’ll say, “We caught a glimpse of something” or “I think I heard one near the campsite.” That’s human nature and, as Roswell proves, it’s enough to keep the people coming.
Also, when you stop and think about it, an undiscovered species in Liberty County isn’t really that much of a leap. The late E.E. Callaway already convinced a bunch of folks that the Garden of Eden is here. Scientists know that we have lots rare and unique plants in that same area. How hard would it be to sell the idea that maybe not all the animals made it onto Noah’s Ark?
Maybe Bigfoots (Bigfeet?) nodded off in the Land of Nod and missed the boat. Maybe the Great Flood didn’t quite cover up the bluffs. We don’t have to believe it; we just need to pose the questions.
Furthermore, have you read how most witnesses describe the creature? A big, hairy, apelike animal that sneaks around through the woods. Tell me that doesn’t describe about half of us humans here during hunting season. Give him a ball cap and some camo and Bigfoot could hide in plain sight for months at a time.
Oh, and here’s the best part: Any time the Apalachicola River gets too low, we can accuse the Corps of Engineers of endangering Bigfoot habitat. They don’t seem to care about the oysters, the mussels or the fish. But if we convince folks this is Sasquatch stomping ground, maybe they’ll be forced to let us have some more water.
The only downside I see is that we would have to put up with more tourists. But if we could funnel them from the Interstate, through a maze of locally owned stores and then into the park, it might keep them a safe distance away from the rest of us. (At least far enough that we don’t have to hear any Bigfoot stories.)
Personally, I’ll never believe in Bigfoot until I see one alive or hanging upside down at Big Bend Bait & Tackle. But I do believe in capitalism. So I say, let’s embrace ol’ Sasquatch for now and let the market tell us how real he is.