Sunday, September 22, 2019
Friday was when, according to earlier event plans, millions of people were to storm Area 51, a classified facility within the United States Air Force’s Nevada Test and Training Range, and the world was to finally learn of its secrets. In the end, an estimated one-to-two hundred people showed up at the gates, and the classified area was not stormed.
It all began on June 27, when Matty Roberts posted a event invitation on social media site Facebook. More than two million people replied they would attend and an additional million-and-a-half expressed interest in the event. Roberts says his event, “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us”, was posted as a joke. Roberts is about 20 years old and from Bakersfield, California.
The event description read, “We will all meet up at the Area 51 Alien Center tourist attraction and coordinate our entry […] If we Naruto run, we can move faster than their bullets. Let’s see them aliens.” Area 51 has for decades been rumored to be a facility for UFO and extraterrestrials research. Naruto is a Japanese cartoon ninja character who runs with his arms behind his back.
As the event turned viral, both media and authorities took notice. The nearest settlement to Area 51 is Rachel in Lincoln County. It is a remote desert town with a population of around fifty people. The Little A’Le’Inn is the only business offering food and accommodations and the town has no gas stations. County sheriff Kerry Lee told the BBC even one percent of Facebook users attending “would be more overwhelming than we can handle”. The Air Force issued warnings against attempts to enter the restricted zone of the base, saying it was dangerous.
The sheriff’s office arranged for reinforcements from across Nevada. Fewer than two hundred showed up at the gates of the base, but no one tried to storm the military base. Sheriff Lee said they arrested one person for urinating in public, technically indecent exposure. They arrested three for “suspicion of trespassing” and another for an incident related to alcohol. Over a thousand were reported to have reached Rachel, but most did not make the final trek to the base.
Meanwhile, other events popped up seeking to capitalize on the notoriety of the Storm Area 51 event. In nearby Hiko, a “Storm Area 51 Basecamp Experience” was underway with music and other entertainment. Thursday night, “Alien Stock” was held in downtown Las Vegas, Nevada with involvement of original poster Matty Roberts.
Bob Lazar was reputedly responsible for creating much of the folklore surrounding Area 51 which is not an official name. A 2018 documentary film titled Bob Lazar: Area 51 & Flying Saucers may have spurred recent interest.