Don Pyke said at first the helicopter was just hovering low over some apartments. Then, it dropped something.

The stream of ribbony material floated to the building’s roof and cascaded over the edge to the ground. Pyke crossed the street to check it out.

“And sure enough, it was toilet paper," Pyke said. “It was the strangest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”

A low-flying helicopter normally draws questions; one unloading rolls of toilet paper — considered a precious good during the coronavirus pandemic — gets a small crowd. So, even though it was dark, just before 9 p.m., a handful of fateful passersby and observant neighbors still gathered at the drop site near 3600 S. 1300 East to discuss what they’d seen — and confirm they had, indeed, seen it.

It was like seeing a UFO, Pyke said. Almost as strange.

A woman who’d watched the spectacle from her car and pulled over to talk about it told Pyke she was sure she’d seen five rolls descend. Pyke said he saw at least three.

(Photo courtesy Arianna Pickard) Toilet paper streams down from the sky on May 1, 2020. The toilet paper was dropped from a helicopter near 3600 S. 1300 East in Millcreek, and it's unclear why.

Posts about it started appearing on the Ring doorbell watchdog app, Neighbors, too.

One user reported toilet paper was “dropping like streamers.” But others were skeptical that such a highly sought item would literally fall from the sky.

When someone asked, “Was it toilet paper that was being dropped?”

Another responded, “[N]o it was inflatable unicorns and N95 masks.”

But it was toilet paper, Pyke said.

He added, “I told my wife, we ought to go out and roll that stuff up.”

The Salt Lake Tribune contacted Unified police and 911 dispatchers for more information. They were baffled.

Turns out, the drop-off was part of a 40th birthday celebration, according to posts on Instagram.

A woman wrote in a post commemorating the day, “Oh yeah, did I mention my best friends arranged for a helicopter flyby? As the helicopter made passes over the house, toilet paper dropped out of the sky and looked like ribbon against the sunset. Magic."

She didn’t respond to The Salt Lake Tribune’s request for comment on Saturday.