Chehalis is laying claim to the term ‘flying saucer,’ and throwing a party to celebrate

The Chehalis Theater is screening sci-fi movies for the Flying Saucer Party on Saturday.
The Chehalis Theater is screening sci-fi movies for the Flying Saucer Party on Saturday. Courtesy of Lewis County Historical Museum

On Saturday, the flying saucers will return to Chehalis.

The occasion is the Lewis County Historical Museum’s first Flying Saucer Party. The event commemorates Kenneth Arnold’s famed 1947 sighting of what appeared to be flying saucers.

But the saucers that will take flight Saturday aren’t unidentified flying objects. They’re flying discs that will be tossed from the museum’s gazebo. It’s the return of the saucer drop, a beloved tradition at Chehalis’ Krazy Days during the ’60s and ’70s. The idea now, as then, is that kids can catch the discs, which will have prizes attached.

Though those saucers are the only ones expected to fly on Saturday, there’ll be plenty of other flying-saucer themed goings on, all inspired by the objects Arnold saw above Mount Rainier while piloting a plane from Chehalis to Yakima. The incident gave rise to the term “flying saucer” because he described the objects as saucer shaped.

Chehalis has loved the flying saucer ever since, and there have been more recent UFO sightings there, too, said Jason Mattson, the museum’s executive director.

In fact, more people have been talking about strange things they’ve seen since the museum announced the saucer soiree.

“I’ve been hearing stories from people I wouldn’t have expected who’ve seen things that they can’t explain,” Mattson told The Olympian.

The event will feature a talk by Arnold’s granddaughter Shanelle Schanz of Boise, who’ll talk about her memories of Arnold — whom she calls the godfather of the UFO field — and show some of his documents.

Arnold had no interest in UFOs before he saw them, Schanz told the Boise Weekly in 2014. “His first instinct when he spotted the flying objects was that they were some kind of Russian intelligence aircraft,” she said.

There’ll be other speakers, too, and the museum will have exhibits on Lewis County UFO sightings and on the impact UFOs have had on popular culture.

For those who’d rather be entertained than educated, the Chehalis Theater will screen two “Mystery Science 3000” films and the 1956 alien-attack flick “Earth vs. the Flying Saucers.”

McFiler’s, a downtown Chehalis restaurant and bar, will have live music followed by an alien costume contest. Among the featured bands are The Jacked Lords, an Olympia surf band that’s known for dressing alien-style, and Tinkham Road, a Snoqualmie Valley band that has a few songs about Arnold.

“We tried to get bands that all fit the theme in some regard,” Mattson said.

Flying Saucer Party

  • What: The Lewis County Historical Museum is throwing a party in honor of one of Chehalis’ claims to fame: It’s the city from which pilot Kenneth Arnold took off just before he spotted a cluster of unidentified flying objects that he described as “saucers.”
  • When: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21
  • Where: Downtown Chehalis
  • Tickets: $55 for a VIP ticket with admission to all events; individual tickets to six different lecture also are available.
  • More information: 360-748-0831, flyingsaucerparty.org


  • Exhibits and children’s activities: 9 a.m.-7 p.m. at the museum, 599 N.W. Front Way, Chehalis. The saucer drop will happen at 12:15 p.m. $4 for museum admission; free for children’s activities. 360-748-0831
  • Speakers: 9:30 a.m.-7 p.m. at City Farm, 456 N. Market Blvd., Chehalis. Shanelle Schanz, Kenneth Arnold’s granddaughter, will speak at 2:30 p.m., and “Pacific NorthWeird” host Vince Ynzunza will talk with local UFO witness John Roe at 9:30 a.m. $10 per talk
  • Films:Mystery Science Theater 3000: Laserblast” (showings at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.), “Mystery Science Theater 3000: Space Mutiny” (showings at 1 and 5 p.m.) and “Earth vs. the Flying Saucers” (7 p.m. showing), Chehalis Theater, 558 N. Market Blvd., Chehalis. $3 and $7. 360-557-3946
  • Live music and alien costume contest: Beginning at 3 p.m. at McFiler’s, 543 NW Pacific Ave, Chehalis. 360-996-4400