SALT LAKE CITY — A lightning strike has left the large clock atop Salt Lake's City and County Building frozen in time, and observers can't help but draw a connection to a 1980s hit movie series.
In "Back to the Future," Michael J. Fox's character, Marty McFly, escaped back to the future in a DeLorean-turned-time machine, but needed a well-placed lightning strike at a clock tower to go back to the future.
Salt Lake City's clock now shows 4:58, as it has for weeks, after the lightning strike that occurred during a city council meeting weeks ago.
"That's interesting — the parallels," remarked Peter Brunjes, gazing up at the downtown clock tower.
Some seemed for a time on Thursday to believe the silver screen classic had become reality.
"I don't know," said Lindsay McFadden. "This is a strange place. Strange things happen in Salt Lake City."
The Salt Lake City mayor's spokesman Art Raymond said he just knew "what he'd been told," as he peered through dark sunglasses not unlike an agent investigating an "X-Files" case.
"Certainly we've heard from folks asking exactly where the flux capacitor was," Raymond said. "We did not see any tire marks. There were some suspicious wires found on the grounds."
Another man, Mark Martinez, said he had seen time travelers in the area, and then quipped, "They're all crashed out here sleeping," referring to some vagrants taking naps on Washington Square.
However — with no credible sightings of McFly, and no evidence that rose above circumstantial — the lightning strike has been concluded to be garden variety, outside of the timing and placement.
It was, however, more extraordinary in terms of damage.
The massive blast of electricity fried the computers that govern the machinery inside the clock.
"I had the window open, and it may have been the loudest thing I have heard in my life," Raymond said.
Raymond said the clock parts were currently in New York being repaired, and he anticipated the clock would return to working order in the near future.