Beginning on Sept. 19, three towns in Nevada hosted Area 51 themed events in response to an event called, “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us” that originated on Facebook earlier this year and went viral.
The event was created by a 21-year-old college student named Matty Roberts who subsequently admitted it was started as a joke. To date, more than 3 million Facebook users joined the event.
The county of Lincoln, where the towns of Rachel and Hiko are located, has a total population of 5,345 and was thrown into the national spotlight. World and national media began to ask questions about the preparedness of the county in hosting the possible millions of people signed up to attend.
Local businesses such as the Little A’Le’Inn located in Rachel, partnered with Roberts to take advantage of the economic opportunity from the influx of people. “Alienstock” was born out of this partnership, with the Little A’Le’Inn providing camping, parking and music festival grounds.
As the date of the festival approached, the growing concern over lack of preparedness was echoed from local commissioners, the Lincoln County Sheriff, and the military responsible for protecting the border of Nellis Air Force Base, where the Nevada Test and Training Range (Area 51) is located.
In response to this concern, Roberts canceled the official festival and partnered with new organizers in Las Vegas who were better equipped to handle festival attendees. This didn’t stop the business owners in Hiko or Rachel, though. Both businesses in these towns continued on with their events.
What transpired over the weekend were three separate events hosting a smaller number of attendees than anticipated. The story and photos below are from the Rachel event.
Rachel, Nevada is a community located on Highway 375 (the Extraterrestrial Highway) and is home to a population of 54.
There was little to no discussion among attendees to “storm” the gates as originally proposed. The event started as a joke but turned into a rallying message for alien believers, and gave many an excuse to make the long journey to the home of UFO lore.
John Gonzalez, from Phoenix Arizona, wanted to see Area 51 in person for most of his life and has been interested in UFOs for 20 years.
“My father used to have old magazines that I would look through and I developed an interest at an early age,” he said. “I used to listen to Art Bell who had a radio show about paranormal activity and would talk about Area 51 in his program.”
When asked about his visit to the entrance of Area 51 he said, “the local authorities and Nevada sheriffs were very nice and cordial when I went to check out the gate. Don’t listen to what Facebook tells you, people here are much nicer than what Facebook says.”
Mary Skinner Conrad lives in Portland, Oregon and explained, “I’m looking to relax with like-minded people, expand my experience, expand my life. I’m looking at this as a vacation. We all know aliens exist, they are our brothers and sister cosmically. We all share this universe, flying through space.”
Christopher Hayes 24, lives in Las Vegas, and when asked why he attended, he said, “the hype surrounding the event, something was going to happen and I wanted to be a part of it. Hopefully, this will be one of the bigger, first steps in finding out more information on aliens. I don’t expect to find aliens but I do hope to find a good time, cool people and interesting stories.”
The town ended up hosting several thousand people over the course of the four days of planned events. Many of the attendees drove through the town, looked at the gates and visited the gift shop within the Inn and continued on. Nevada sheriff deputies, the Nevada State Highway Patrol and media were in abundance throughout the course of the event. Many took an active role in being part of the experience.