On June 24, 1947, Idaho-based pilot Kenneth Arnold took off from the Chehalis airport on what was supposed to be a simple business trip to Yakima.
That routine flight made history when Arnold, approaching Mineral at an altitude of 9,200 feet just before 3 p.m. that day, looked toward Mount Rainier and saw nine large metallic-looking objects flying at incredible speeds in a chain formation.
He reported what he saw to the U.S. military, but the flying objects remain unidentified 75 years later.
Arnold’s sighting of those nine unidentified flying objects (UFOs), which occurred weeks before rumors swirled that a flying saucer was found in Roswell, New Mexico, has since been credited as the first major UFO sighting in America.
To honor the 75-year anniversary of Arnold’s UFO sighting, three venues in Chehalis — City Farm Chehalis, McFiler’s Chehalis Theater and the Lewis County Historical Museum — will play host to the Chehalis Flying Saucer Party on Sept. 17.
“It should be really fun,” said Lewis County Historical Museum Director Jason Mattson.
Mattson, alongside Rochester resident and Pacific NorthWEIRD producer Vince Ynzuna, banded together to organize the first Chehalis Flying Saucer Party in 2019, according to previous Chronicle reporting. That event was a success, but organizers were unable to hold it for the last two years due to COVID-19 restrictions, Mattson said.
“It’s kind of a big one because it’s the 75th anniversary (of Kenneth Arnold’s UFO sighting),” Mattson said of this year’s Flying Saucer Party.
The museum will be free to enter during the Flying Saucer Party and will host multiple UFO-themed exhibits, including a new permanent Kenneth Arnold exhibit that will be unveiled Saturday morning. The museum will also showcase an exhibit celebrating the 75th anniversary of Yard Birds Mall & Storage opening in Chehalis, which happened to coincide with the anniversary of Arnold’s UFO sighting, Mattson said.
At 1 p.m., the museum will host a free Saucer Drop, a reimagining of an old Chehalis Krazy Days’ tradition of tossing toy discs from the museum’s gazebo. Kids then try to catch the falling saucers and win the prizes, donated by local Chehalis businesses, attached to each one.
Over at the McFiler’s Chehalis Theater, free flying saucer cartoons will be playing all day. For $5, attendees can view “The Day the Earth Stood Still” at 8 p.m. McFilers will also host free live music by Kirby Swatosh at 4 p.m., The Jacked Lords at 6 p.m. and Tinkham Road at 8 p.m.
Renowned UFO experts will give presentations throughout the day at City Farm and will join for a questions and answers panel, moderated by Ynzuna, at 6:30 p.m.
Each of the presentations costs $10 to attend. VIP passes — which include admission to all seven presentations, a movie pass, 20% off food at McFilers, an event T-shirt, a goodie bag and a one-year membership to the Lewis County Historical Museum — are available for $60 each.
VIP passes are available for purchase in-person at the museum or online at flyingsaucerparty.org through Friday.
Individual presentation passes and movie tickets can be purchased at the museum the day of the event.
All proceeds will benefit the Lewis County Historical Museum.
Following are brief descriptions of each of the scheduled speakers, provided by event organizers. A full schedule of events is available at flyingsaucerparty.org.
Greg Long, 4:30 p.m.: A researcher and writer, Long will give a “lively presentation” on Kenneth Arnold “based on little-known facts about his roots, character and his obsession to know the truth.”