A few months ago, it was all the rage: What began as an innocuous Facebook event, a joke, snowballed into a story of alien intrigue, government responses, and maybe one or two legal complaints along the way. ‘Storm Area 51’ became a kind of online phenomenon, its event page reaching over two million people, all claiming they would charge into Area 51 and find out what was really going on there.
What came of it? Well, believe it or not, they didn’t quite reach two million. The final turnout was around 75 to 150 at the base’s front gates, and according to reports, no one actually attempted to storm anything. A few people were, however, arrested for trespassing.
Truth be told, the full story of ‘Storm Area 51’ is about more than just a small group of people hanging around outside the entrance of a top secret military facility. There were a lot of twists and turns along the way.
Before the Storm
It all began in July 2019, when the Facebook page first popped up. “Storm Area 51,” its title read, “They Can’t Stop All of US.” The description of the event showed that it was clearly meant to be a joke:
“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. Lets see them aliens.”
But then things heated up. The page gained mainstream attention, and as more and more people pledged to attend the event, the U.S. government turned its eye on the possibilities. In an official statement, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Air Force responded:
“[Area 51] is an open training range for the US Air Force, and we would discourage anyone from trying to come into the area where we train American armed forces…”
It was at about that time when the original creator of the Facebook event, Matty Roberts, started having second thoughts. (He also reportedly got a special visit from the FBI.) So he threw out the idea of storming a military base, and suggested they host a music festival, instead.
“It started out as a pure stroke of imagination, something funny, something cool,” he told KTNV Las Vegas in mid-July, “But I don’t want anyone to get hurt.”
And so, the idea of ‘Alienstock’ was born. It would be a music festival — they’d all meet up out in the desert and, you know, hang out.
But even that idea had its problems.
On the run-up to the fateful day — September 20, 2019 — local businesses and authorities in the small towns of Rachel and Hiko, Nevada were scrambling to prepare for what they expected to be a total disaster. Even a small percentage of that two million would cause issues.
They didn’t think they had the amenities — enough food, enough water, enough security. They even removed the famous ‘Extraterrestrial Highway’ sign in fear that it would be damaged in the shuffle. Emergency declarations were signed, funds were allocated, and according to the Independent, “local residents warned people not to come.” It was a bit of a mess.
Keep in mind that Rachel, Nevada has a total population of about 54.
But then another twist happened: Despite all that preparation and scrambling, about two weeks before the event, Roberts changed his mind about hosting Alienstock in the small town, citing concerns over the lack of security and amenities. Instead, he’d take part in a different event at the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center.
According to Time, this led many residents in Rachel to breath a “sigh of relief.” While many people still showed up (a few thousand, at least), the original event fractured into at least three different, and much more manageable, events (including Rachel’s renamed “Alien-Stock”).
As Fox News reported, “around 3,000 festival and campers continued to mill around the area on Saturday afternoon, partaking in activities such as ax-throwing and alien meditation.”
So, no one actually stormed Area 51, the multiple “festivals” more or less happened without issue, and we learned absolutely nothing about extraterrestrial life on Earth or elsewhere.
End of story? Not quite, but almost.
Consider this a “Where Are They Now?” epilogue:
- A lawsuit was filed by a Rachel, Nevada business owner, due to issues surrounding the funding of ‘Alienstock.’
- The ‘Storm Area 51’ Facebook page turned into a page for the Official Alienstock Tour, reading “Now you can party with Matty Roberts and meet the guys who were visited by the FBI, who forced the government to respond to a meme!”
- The Extraterrestrial Highway sign returned, after being freshened up.
- Oh, and the U.S. military apologized for some of their tweets.
Australia’s “Area 51”
And that all brings us to today, and to yet another ‘storm’ that ended up being a trickle. This week, news hit of another attempt to discover alien secrets in the form of ‘STORM AREA 51 Australian edition”:
“y’all can come round for food and drinks then we will hit the base and set our boy ET FREE and ride some alien kangaroos around”
The Facebook event garnered over 300 people pledging interest in “storming” Pine Gap, a U.S. satellite surveillance base in Alice Springs, Northern Territory. Reportedly, about 150 people actually showed up on November 27, but the event otherwise “fizzled.”
Another event at Pine Gap is planned for November 30, but with even smaller numbers pledging to show. “We need to rescue the aliens!!!” it reads, “Who’s with me?”