The Chehalis Flying Saucer Party Celebrating the Summer of the Saucers on Saturday was festive and out of this world, highlighted by speaker Shanelle Shanz, the granddaughter of the pilot who flew from Chehalis to Yakima in the summer of 1947 where he spotted unknown flying objects he described as “flying saucers” over Mount Rainier.
She drove from Boise, Idaho, to tell her story of grandfather Kenneth Arnold, a private businessman and pilot, considered the first witness to UFOs in the modern era. He reported the sighting on June 24, 1947. The story went international, and preceded the Roswell sighting two weeks later.
“I want his legacy honored,” she said. “Two weeks before Roswell my grandfather changed the world by reporting what he thought to believe was foreign technology. He kind of created Ufology.”
She said as a young child, her grandfather sat her down and told her to think for herself and never trust the government. He also changed his belief about the flying saucers being foreign technology, he told her.
“At the end of his life he believed they were the link between the living and the dead, that they are multidimensional,” Shanz said. “He believed they came from where we die and volcanoes are portals to the dimension we go when we die.”
Saturday’s Flying Saucer Party in Chehalis included several speakers at the venue City Farm Chehalis, science fiction and space-based movies at the Chehalis Theater, and live music at McFiler’s and The Shire, as well as exhibits at the Lewis County Historical Museum featuring saucer sightings in Lewis County and flying saucers in pop culture.
Shanz said her grandfather, who died in 1984 in Seattle, would have approved of the event on Saturday. She said he died disillusioned that the government did not take his report seriously at best, and at worst, that they downplayed it as false.
“My grandfather would be so honored,” she said. “I wonder if he knows now that he is honored.”
Organizer Jason Mattson, the executive director of the Lewis County Historical Museum, said he plans on bringing the event back to Chehalis next year.
“It’s great,” he said on Saturday. I’m loving it. It’s a really nice turnout, a fun crowd. The speakers are amazing people and we had a lot of help by volunteers and downtown businesses.”
Jacki and Casey Winters, owners of the Chehalis Theater, screened the “Mystery Science Theater 3000” movies and “Earth Vs. the Flying Saucers.”
They were enjoying the Flying Saucer Party and appreciated the turnout as well.
“It brings people to our downtown,” Jacki Winters said.
Caitlin Mattson, Jason Mattson’s wife, was dressed up for the event in a self-described “Spacemuse” costume.
“This was so much fun, the turnout is great,” she said. “The people are so free spirited and fun. It brought a lot of creativity and business downtown.”