Fewer alien enthusiasts than expected show up at Area 51
The day we had all been waiting for is finally here — but it wasn’t as exciting as expected. And that’s probably for the best.
Instead, many of the 3,000 or so people that showed up in surrounding areas decided against storming the mystifying location, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office said.
“They did threaten that they were going to storm,” Lincoln County Sheriff Kerry Lee said. “Once officers warned them about the consequences for storming the base, they did have second thoughts.”
There was one alcohol-related arrest and a Canadian citizen was also arrested for indecent exposure, Lee said. One woman came close to crossing and she was briefly detained and released at the scene.
The sheriff said the Nevada Highway Patrol had also made a couple of arrests.
‘Come, look, see’
The crowd was “very manageable for emergency services,” Lee said, adding it was nowhere near the number of people initially expected.
“The crowd has been good,” he said. “Officers have been mingling with the crowds and the crowds have been positive and so far it’s been really well.”
But they expect more people to show up throughout the day and night, the sheriff said, and are keeping their guard up.
Lee’s advice: “Come, look, see what you can see, but just don’t cross.”
Many of the campers told CNN they had no plans to go through with the raid Friday.
Mary Ramirez, sporting an alien-themed T-shirt and alien sunglasses, said she thought storming Area 51 would be a bad idea.
“You think I’m crazy?,” she said.
One Arizona resident said he came out for the fun of it.
“Just like this thing said, everybody’s always wondered, are they really holding aliens down there,” the camper said.
The Facebook event’s creator had already disavowed the whole thing and the page was taken down. But that didn’t stop alien enthusiasts from dedicating the day to our fellow galaxy residents. There were multiple events planned around the base and many attendees camped out in nearby highways, enjoying a sunny day and a drink.
So, how did all the hullabaloo get started?
The creator underestimated the allure
Matty Roberts was just joking. He didn’t believe anyone would take him seriously when, on June 27, he created a Facebook page for an event entitled “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us.”
But Roberts may have underestimated the allure of Area 51, the highly classified US Air Force base in southern Nevada. It’s long been a topic of fascination for conspiracy theorists and paranormal enthusiasts who believe it to be the location where the US government stores and hides alien bodies and UFOs. Just this week, the US Navy acknowledged that some videos of UFOs are indeed images of objects that can’t be identified.
Roberts said he came up with the idea for the meme page after podcaster Joe Rogan interviewed Area 51 whistleblower Bob Lazar and filmmaker Jeremy Corbell. Lazar claims that he worked with an alien spacecraft while he was employed in one of Area 51’s underground facilities.
The Air Force didn’t see the joke in any of this and promised to stand “ready to protect America and its assets,” so Roberts switched tactics. He started promoting a music festival, Alienstock, to be held this weekend in Rachel, Nevada, one of the closest towns to the base. But he pulled out of the festival last week, because he feared it would turn into a “humanitarian disaster.”
“Due to the lack of infrastructure, poor planning, risk management and blatant disregard for the safety of the expected 10,000+ AlienStock attendees, we decided to pull the plug on the festival,” he wrote on a website for the festival. (Roberts set up a separate festival, the Area 51 Celebration, in downtown Las Vegas.)
But Alienstock will go on in Rachel, as well as other events in the nearby town of Hiko, and that’s what has local officials worried. They’re afraid that some people really will try to “storm” the desert base or put themselves in danger trying.
There are not enough accommodations
Local authorities and the community spent the past few weeks preparing for Friday.
Rachel has a population of 54 and is surrounded by ghost towns and desert. The town boasts only four businesses in its city limits, and the Little A’Le’Inn is the only one that provides lodging and food.
According to its website, the inn is “booked solid.” The inn has 14 rooms, and camping space is now the last available option.
Early Friday, the sheriff’s office reported there were 2,000 people in Rachel. There were another 250 were in Hiko.
“Vehicle traffic is starting to get heavy coming in to the area,” the sheriff’s office said. “Please use extreme caution and plan ahead for delays in travel.”
To make matters worse, Rachel’s only gas station closed in 2006, so visitors will have to fill their tanks 50 miles away in Alamo, Nevada.
Two people had already tried to get on the base earlier this month. Two Dutch men were arrested about three miles deep into the Nevada National Security Site, which is near Area 51. They pleaded guilty to trespassing and illegal parking. They told authorities they just wanted to get a good look at Area 51.
So, did anyone Naruto run?
We’re glad you asked. There was definitely a Naruto runner.
CNN’s Nick Watt reported from Rachel, Nevada, and Douglas Criss and Christina Maxouris reported and wrote from Atlanta. CNN’s Ryan Prior, Maureen O’Hare, Lauren M. Johnson and Jack Hannah contributed to this report.