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Chehalis Flying Saucer Party Celebrates Out-of-This-World History

If you’ve ever spotted something strange or other-worldly hiding among the murals in downtown Chehalis and wondered “Why?” Well… you’re not alone and it’s quite a story.

Washington state is home to endless paranormal legends, including many hailing from out of town or, more specifically, out of this world. In fact, according to a report by Stacker that analyzed data from the National UFO Reporting Center, Washington residents have reported more UFO sightings than any other state.[1] Southwest Washington is something of a hotspot for paranormal phenomena, from lights in the sky to crop circles. Chehalis itself was the takeoff point for an eyewitness report that produced the pervasive pop culture term, “flying saucer.” This historic event is the original inspiration behind the Chehalis Flying Saucer Party.

In June of 1947, Idaho-based pilot Kenneth Arnold flew out of the Chehalis Airport toward his home and, ultimately, an unforgettable sight that turned the entire nation’s eyes toward the sky. Shortly into his flight, Arnold witnessed what he described as nine “flying discs” moving at startling speeds in a chain formation above Mineral, WA. Arnold’s report gave birth to the term “flying saucer,” which became a pop culture sensation. The Chehalis Flying Saucer Party celebrates this event and the generations of subsequent stories that continue to thrill and intrigue.[2]

The event first launched in 2019, shortly after Executive Director Jason Mattson joined the Lewis County Historical Museum. Mattson partnered with Vince Ynzunza, producer of the web series, Pacific NorthWEIRD, to plan, coordinate, and produce the Flying Saucer Party. The goal is to celebrate some of the Pacific Northwest’s quirky history by increasing awareness of historic sightings and our small town’s mark on “UFOlogy” and modern culture. Mattson’s hope is that visitors “have fun and maybe learn something new, [whether they] believe it or not.” The event lineup is certainly conducive to these aims, with a jam-packed schedule of activities spread across downtown Chehalis.

Partygoers, believers or otherwise, can enjoy a variety of events and wholesome shenanigans all day long. Speakers begin at 9:30 a.m. at City Farm in Chehalis on the morning of Saturday, September 17th. The McFilers Historic Theater will play free flying saucer cartoons all day, followed by an 8pm showing of “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” Movie admission is $5. Live music can be found at McFilers restaurant, starting at 4 p.m. At the Lewis County Historical Museum, enter for free and hover over several special exhibits celebrating UFOs and Lewis County’s own culture and history. The famed “Saucer Drop” lands at the museum’s gazebo at 1 p.m., where lucky visitors might catch their own flying discs as they rain down from the sky. This tradition hearkens back to the beloved Chehalis Krazy Days, when free toy discs were tossed out to locals from atop a fire truck ladder.

Admission to each speaker is $10 per person. Want to catch ALL the fun? VIP tickets can be purchased for $60 and include seven speaker passes, a movie pass, 20% discount on food items at McFilers restaurant, goodie bag, a complimentary souvenir T-shirt, and an annual membership to the Lewis County Historical Museum. Full event details and itinerary can be found on The Chehalis Flying Saucer Party website. Proceeds from the Chehalis Flying Saucer Party go toward the museum. Other ways to support the museum include purchasing memberships and items from the gift shop, visiting and sharing about your experience, and volunteering. And don’t forget to follow The Chehalis Flying Saucer Party and Lewis County Historical Museum on Facebook for updates!

[1] Caldwell, Nicole and Albasi, Matt; “States with the Most UFO Sightings,” Stacker. 2022. https://stacker.com/stories/1095/states-most-ufo-sightings

[2] The Chehalis Flying Saucer Party; https://flyingsaucerparty.org/about/

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