The Crash of the Area 51 Raid

Charlotte Snow and Nick Cepek

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A buzz of anticipation filled the hot desert air as people poured into Nevada, eyes set on the mysterious building nestled in the sandy earth of Lincoln County. Thousands of people were gathering outside the gates, possibly millions more on their way. It had started out as a joke, created by young Matty Roberts… but it was finally happening. Youtubers, Naruto runners, alien enthusiasts and a swarm of other people from all across the U.S. were gathering in the desert, donning their tinfoil hats and lime green spandex, excited for what everyone had said would come next. The hum of excited chatter was deafening in the typically silent military base as people socialized with one another, waiting for the raid. With the eyes of the nation watching excitedly, the 3,000 Area 51 raiders filed into the desert in front of the secretive facility, complacently sitting in front of the building the entire day. 

What started out as a harmless joke turned into alien madness. On Sept. 20 as over 3,000 alien enthusiasts arrived at Area 51 for a raid that for months, people thought would never actually happen.

Taken from ABS-CBN News
Brave or Stupid? A lone man tries Naruto-running past the Area 51 guards and gate to break in.

 The “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us” campaign was a Facebook event that over two million people RSVPd to and only 3,000 attended in person, a disappointing flop for many excited people watching the live updates at home. Started by 21-year-old Matty Roberts in June of 2019, the joke quickly gained attention as alien enthusiasts and conspiracy theorists took it seriously, saying they would actually raid Area 51. Spanning from June to Sept., almost two million people RSVP’s to the Facebook Event, with another 1.5 million saying they were interested.

Roberts never thought his joke would take off the way it did. As RSVPs started piling up, Air Force officials got worried. 

“[Area 51] is an open training range for the U.S. Air Force, and we would discourage anyone from trying to come into the area where we train American armed forces,”  Air Force spokeswoman Laura McAndrews claimed. 

With the government’s warning ringing in his ears and the weight of potential casualties on his shoulders, Roberts quickly admitted the raid to be a joke and relieved himself of any blame for the actions of people against Area 51. He then organized and started promoting a different event called Alienstock, a music festival that would take place in Rachel, Nevada, the town closest to Area 51. This diverted attention away from the raid and it was estimated that over 10,000 people would attend Alienstock. However, Roberts later released a statement on the festival’s website, stating that, “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.”

The cancelation of the festival was a let down for many, especially after Roberts abandoned the original raid. While he started planning a smaller festival to take place in downtown Las Vegas called The Area 51 Celebration, confused fans and enthusiasts headed to Rachel for celebration and a fun time, accompanied by some people serious about raiding the facility. The town was flooded with excited fans, YouTubers, and anyone looking for a fun time. Although local law enforcement was told to be at the ready for an attack, there were only two reported arrests. One was for trying to break into Area 51 while the other was related to alcohol. 

Lincoln County Sheriff Kerry Lee was at the event, making sure no one actually tried storming Area 51.

Taken from Time
Memories in the Making: Raiders of Area 51 gather together after a day of fun for a photo to remember their failed raid.

 “They did threaten that they were going to storm,” he said in an interview on CNN. “Once officers warned them about the consequences for storming the base, they did have second thoughts.”

In general, the event seemed to be more of a fun festival rather than a raid. 

“The guards were unbelievably nice. They took photos with everyone and were pretty much just smiling.” Australian Youtuber Danny Philippou told TIME news. 

So although no one actually “raided” Area 51, it was still an entertaining sight for people watching from the sidelines. There were joke raids, fun costumes, and for many an overall sense of community as people partied the day away. And yes, there was a Naruto runner. 

“Frankly,” Joerg Arnu, resident of Rachel told the times, “We are breathing a sigh of relief. It feels like mission accomplished.”

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