Area 51 has long been a rich piece of American pop culture. Are aliens kept there? Super secret spaceships? Men in black with memory-wiping devices? The Nevada facility regularly pops up in movies like Independence Day and TV shows like The X-Files, but it made the news this summer for a joke that turned into more than one actual planned event.
How did it start? In June 2019, Matty Roberts, a 21-year-old Bakersfield, California, college student, created a Facebook event titled Storm Area 51, They Can't Stop All of Us. The supposed joke event urged people to raid the US government facility on Friday, Sept. 20.
"We will all meet up at the Area 51 Alien Center tourist attraction and coordinate our entry," the original text read. "If we Naruto run, we can move faster than their bullets. Let's see them aliens." ("Naruto run" refers to an especially awkward way of running depicted in the Japanese anime Naruto, where main character Naruto Uzumaki flings his arms out behind him.)
As a joke, the event is an entertaining play on America's lengthy fascination with extraterrestrials and the mysterious Area 51. But as a real event, it left a lot to be desired.
The US Air Force warned people that storming its property wouldn't be taken lightly. But with more than 2 million people RSVPing to attend the event, and at least some of them appearing to be serious, multiple events are now set for the weekend. None, however, promises an illegal raid on military property (at least not officially). That planned raid turned out to be more or less a weird costume party at the gate of the national security site Friday.
More than 2.1 million pledged to storm Area 51 to “see them aliens” but only a handful turned up in the Nevada desert on Friday, September 20. The Area 51 raid began as an online Facebook event organised by California-based internet prankster Matty Roberts, 21, on June 27 this year.
By July, the event quickly gained traction among online communities and UFO enthusiasts with 2.1 million confirming their attendance and another 1.5 million showing interest. The original “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us” event was cancelled and moved to Las Vegas but the move did not deter small groups of people from visiting the US Air Force base.
Despite warnings from the US military about approaching the “open training range” between up to 100 people congregated outside the gates to Area 51.
About 2,000 would-be Area 51 raiders also paid visits to the nearby towns of Rachel and Hiko, where they held impromptu parties, campsites in the desert and an alien-themed festival over the weekend.
People showed up wearing fancy costumes, carrying placards and inflatable aliens.
One UFO enthusiast was seen holding a sign calling on the US Government to release the friendly alien ET.