FOSTORIA, Ohio (AP) _ Several hundred people lined a highway in this northwestern Ohio city Friday night to see what many believe is an image of Jesus Christ on the side of a soybean oil tank.
The image, which was spotted earlier in the week even though the tank was just recently painted, is the second to appear on the Archer Daniel Midland tank on Ohio 12. The first image, which some claimed to be that of Jesus Christ and a small child, appeared in July 1986.
The faithful and the curious lined up along the highway as night fell Friday to see the new image, which the faithful say appears only at night.
Dick Burket, an ADM spokesman in Decatur, Ill., said Thursday that he believes shadows created by surrounding streetlights are causing the new image to appear on the tank, which was repainted just three weeks ago.
No matter what the cause, many who turned out Friday said they believed it was the face of Jesus Christ on the side of the 40-foot-high tank. Earlier in the week, however, witnesses said it appeared to be a man in a flowing robe or the Statue of Liberty.
″I saw the image last year. I couldn’t find any answers why it appeared and I can’t find any answers this year,″ said Juanita Martinez of Fostoria. ″I asked my husband about three weeks ago, ‘Do you think the Lord will make the image appear again?’ and he told me, ’It will happen if He wants it to.‴
She said she believes the new image is a religious message.
″It is a message for us to get united, not to pull religions apart, but to get united and love one another,″ she said.
The first image disappeared in September 1986 when former Findlay firefighter, Ricky Sims, 35, became so angry at the traffic jams around the tank that he tossed several paint-filled balloons at it. He later pleaded guilty to a charge of criminal damaging in the incident.
Dee Wager, an artist from Fostoria, went to the site Friday night to sell posters of last year’s image for $5 each. Ms. Wager said she sold several hundred copies last year.
She said she was planning to paint a poster of the new image.
″I thought I’d never see it again,″ she said. ″I look for this weekend to be just as big as last year.″