From the Interview with Susan Thomas of Port Townsend conducted by Wendy Los at the Fort Worden History Center on October 9, 2012. Ms. Thomas is Reservation Operations Supervisor at Fort Worden State Park Conference Center. She has been employed by Washington State Parks since 1998. Here she describes one of the more unusual conferences she has worked with:
“I will start off by saying that I have the best job in the world. I really truly do. I do. I have met every type of person you can imagine. We host everything as I was saying from weddings to family reunions. We have government groups come in. We have speakers, we have religious groups. Back in, I think it was, 2003 we hosted this group called the Prophets Conference.
This is probably one of the biggest conferences we ever hosted. It probably had 500 or 600 people. They were people from all over the world. They were from all walks of life. We had doctors and lawyers and teachers and hippies and students and athletic people and you name it, they were here. Just normal everyday people and some people who had very high paying jobs. The whole central thread of this conference was that all of these people believed in aliens. They all believed in life outside of the planet Earth. They believed that they could contact them and or try to communicate with them, not necessarily contact but communicate, send out communications. For three or four days we had all these different people all over the park, some of them, and I’m not lying, I’m not kidding, were wearing tinfoil hats. Some of them, they would walk around with these big antennas on their heads and they had antennas planted in different places They had all kinds of signs trying to connect with something outside of the planet Earth.
I’m not aware they managed to connect. I think some did believe that they did. They weren’t all walking around in tinfoil hats. Like with any group you have your extremes. But everybody did have a very genuine belief that this could potentially happen. That was one of the wilder, more different conferences that I got to be involved in. I’m so grateful I got to see it because it was really different.
That was the only time they did that here. I believe that they do do it every year in different areas They go to different areas of the world to try to find their optimum place where they can connect with extraterrestrials. So that was really fun. Some people brought their families and some people came by themselves. There were bus drivers and cab drivers and surgeons and professors. There were so many of them that they stayed here and they stayed in hotels in town. But they basically had the entire park reserved.
When they first booked with us, made the reservations, we were not aware that this is what the conference was about. We were not aware of that until they actually got here and we started seeing these things happening. We would never have discriminated and said they couldn’t come. But they were into something else. I mean the reality of it was that that’s what they were here to do. They didn’t necessarily frame it like that though. They had some other way of framing it. I should have probably looked into that. I didn’t realize I was going to talk about this today, it was really interesting.”