Strange Lights in Sky Cause Big Buzz

By Michelle Wayland
|  Sunday, Jan 3, 2010  |  Updated 6:18 AM PDT
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Weird News Photos: Holiday Edition

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This image was captured from video taken by an eyewitness.

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Was it a UFO? A Chinese lantern? Or cunning trickery?

There are a lot of theories are out there to try to explain mystery lights seen in the New Year's Eve sky. People reported seeing the small flickering lights in the East County just as one decade ended and another began.

“Has anyone else reported the red lights that were in the sky over El Cajon at midnight?” Josh Cantor emailed NBC San Diego. “This is not a hoax. There were many eyewitnesses.”

He wasn’t alone.

“They stayed stationary for about 20 minutes before they "flew" away into the southern sky, first one alone, and then the other two together. We noticed them just as the clock hit midnight and we went outside to see the night's sky and to bring in the New Year,” Gail Gilman said.

A San Diego fire spokesman on Friday said the lights were probably floating Chinese lanterns known as "Sky lanterns," which are essentially, mini hot-air balloons.

But now there's a different story -- from a man who says he has been tricking the city for years.

Todd Fassler reportedly admitted to creating the lights with weather balloons and street flares. He told KGTV he has launched the balloons for about five years on New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July. He described it as “fun” to get people “wondering what is going on." But he says he will stop.

El Cajon police would not confirm the hoax on Saturday.

The video below was taken by an eyewitness. (click here if video doesn't load)

If you saw the lights, describe what you saw by leaving your comment below, send us your thoughts via Twitter @nbcsandiego or add your comment to our Facebook page. 

If you took pictures you can post them to our “So San Diego” sound off page.

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