Posted by: Craig Woolheater on August 2nd, 2007
David Raygoza shows off a film clip about Bigfoot at Fatte Albert’s Tuesday evening. (Gary Feinstein/The Sentinel)
So what do local residents think of the Bigfoot phenomenon?
A lot of different things, based on reactions to a Bigfoot symposium held Tuesday night at Fatte Albert’s Pizza.
David Raygoza, a continuation high school principal from Fresno, was there to present videotape, photographs and anecdotal accounts he’s collected over the years as an avid Bigfoot hunter searching in Sequoia National Forest.
As Raygoza showed the images on a big screen television, some Fatte Albert’s patrons watched avidly, others showed mild interest and some ignored the presentation altogether.
Skepticism was most pronounced at the back of the restaurant.
“I think they’re full of crap. Come on, think about it. How do you know that somebody’s not … dressing up like Chewbacca in the woods?,” said Daniel Zander, a medical records clerk at Hanford Community Medical Center.
“The way I see it, it’s just like aliens,” said Billy Scroggins, an employee at a Hanford well-drilling company.
Some were more inclined to reserve judgment.
“We just wanted to see what it’s all about. We lived in Washington for a while,” said Tom Switajewski, a civil servant at Lemoore Naval Air Station there with his wife, Irene.
Switajewski expressed doubts about Bigfoot’s actual existence.
“That’s hard to say, because there is some evidence,” he said.
“I give him an ‘A’ for trying. I think he could have better footage. I just don’t think he has enough facts behind it,” said Nick Troyer, a shipping manager from Hanford.
“Truthfully, if they had better videotape, I mean, I would believe it,” said William Brogdon, a computer builder from Hanford.
Others tended more toward belief.
“Going back in time, there’s always been a Bigfoot,” said Bill Manser, owner of Hanford Office Machines.
“It’s sort of a liaison between man and the animal kingdom,” said Manser, who identified himself as an American Indian.
“There’s been way too many people who’ve noticed it. There’s obviously something out there,” said Anthony Salgado, a social worker from Fresno who came to hear Raygoza.
Perhaps the most fervent advocate was 11-year-old Brendan Haley, from Carmel.
Haley said he and his father, Bruce, happened to be in Lemoore visiting a relative when they heard about the symposium.
“Well, I’m just basically convinced,” Haley said.
His dad wasn’t in exact agreement.
“With Bigfoot, I tend to keep more of an open mind. I’m a cynic and a skeptic, but I keep an open mind on that. It’s conceivable that something that wanted to stay hidden could,” Bruce Haley said.
Reached by telephone after it was over, Raygoza expressed optimism that stronger evidence will emerge.
“I think everyone wants to do something significant in their lives. I believe there are people closing in on this,” he said.Seth Nidever