ST. LOUIS – Monday marks the 50th anniversary of the Mo Mo the Missouri Monster sighting that put the Pike County, Missouri town of Louisiana on the map.

According to co-president Brent Engel of the Louisiana Area Historical Museum, the July 11, 1972 sighting is divisive. “Some say it put Louisiana back on the map more than a century after resilient emigrants to the West were dubbed “Pikers.” Others claim it was a prank gone awry and made townsfolk look foolish.”

The woman who saw Mo Mo on that day, Doris Harrison Bliss, maintains that what she and her two younger brothers saw “at the foot of Louisiana’s Star Hill was not an animal known to science.”

The previous summer was the first Mo Mo the Monster sighting. The Louisiana Area Historical Society said Joan Mills and Mary Ryan “were returning to St. Louis on Highway 79 when they stopped for a picnic northwest of Louisiana.” It was while picnicking that the women saw what they called a “half-ape, half-man” come out of the woods.

After Mills and Ryan originally saw Mo Mo, much of the excitement surrounding the monster stemmed from Marzolf Hill near the Harrison family home on Allen Street. Following Doris and her brothers’ sighting, the police chief at the time, Shelby Ward, was called to investigate at Marzolf Hill. There were more sightings that summer, and there were search parties with state officials, national media outlets, and pseudo-scientists combing the woods.

Louisiana native and treasurer of the museum Linda Beer says the legend of Mo Mo has persisted because “such mysteries allow us to focus on something other than our own concerns or our mundane daily lives.”

The town’s Colorfest celebration in October has the theme “Show Me Mo Mo” in honor of the 50th anniversary of Bliss’ sighting. The Chamber’s Executive Director Kiffany Ardeneaux said the group hopes residents go all out by decorating floats, creating special displays, and turning the event into a “monstrous good time.”

“Mo Mo is a legend that’s never going to die,” Ardeneaux said. “It’s a wonderful theme to play off of.”