‘AlienCon' Invades Dallas Amid Growing Public Interest in Extraterrestrial Life

The search for "the truth" is bound to bring out some characters.

"I believe," said Randy Diaz, who was dressed in a head-to-toe alien costume. "There's things out there."

But it's not just people wearing tin foil hats that you'll find at an event like "AlienCon" these days.

The convention, now in its fifth iteration, brought thousands of people to the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in downtown Dallas for the weekend.

The crowds were diverse and large. Saturday was a complete sellout.

"I think for a very long time, people who were curious or who wanted to talk about this couldn't always feel free to do that," said Jill Tully, vice president of consumer enterprises for A&E Networks, which organizes AlienCon. "But when you come together with thousands of people over the course of the weekend that are interested in the same things you are, you're amongst friends."

There's long been an appetite for all things extraterrestrial in pop culture. But experts said it's only recently that people started to look at the topic in a more serious light.

"The tide has turned on this," said Nick Pope, a panelist at AlienCon. "The subject has come out of the fringe and into the mainstream."

Pope spent most of the 90s investigating UFO sightings for the U.K. Ministry of Defence. He's now a regular contributor to the hit HISTORY series "Ancient Aliens."

During an AlienCon panel Saturday morning, he pointed to several recent news events that ignited the public's interest in alien life.

"A couple of years ago, you might have been regarded as those crazy people who believe that the government was secretly investigating UFOs," he told the audience. "Well guess what? You turned out to be those people who were right."

In December 2017, the New York Times published a story in which the Pentagon acknowledged for the first time the existence of a program that investigated UFO sightings from 2007-12.

Earlier this year, Politico and several other news outlets confirmed that members of Congress received classified briefings detailing UFO sightings.

And then just last month, the U.S. Navy confirmed that three videos posted online by a group called To The Stars Academy of Arts and Sciences are, in fact, real -- though they never determined what the "unidentified aerial phenomena" seen in the clips actually were.

"It's playing on a groundswell of public interest," Pope said. "And I think the feeling is that people are now pushing on an open door here. I think this story is going to continue to unfold."

AlienCon attendee Lily Allen said she hoped so.

"There's so much in space that we haven't been to," Allen said. "There's no way there isn't something else."

AlienCon runs through Sunday. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the AlienCon website.

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