By: Nicole Chedraoui
After months of memes and anticipation, the date of the Area 51 raid finally came, and the outcome of it was nothing like we expected. On the morning of September 20th, people of all ages poured into the small town of Rachel, Nevada, dressed from head to toe in green paint and tin foil. They gathered around 3 am outside the Area 51 gate with “The Final Countdown” blasting through a bluetooth speaker. In honor of the hilarious internet phenomenon, many made signs saying things like “Save ET from the government and “Locked up for what?” This viral joke on the internet birthed a real alien music festival to happen in the small town of 40-50 residents, with an expected crowd of anywhere between 5,000-25,0000 people. However catastrophe never struck, and guests who came surprisingly described the scene as “breathtaking,” and “a really good atmosphere.” Despite the small handful of arrests made that weekend, it was not a barbaric invasion; it was an invasion of friendly humankind. The arrests made were not actually made for attempting to free an alien; they were made for claims of public urination and alcohol use. One attendee stated that “There were people ranging from kids, to couples, to families, to older people, just looking to have a good time.” The number of guests ended up peaking at 3,000 people, not including the original creator who came up with the idea of storming the area, Matty Roberts, who recently stated that he would not be attending. Roberts’ facebook post had gotten so viral that millions around the country said that they would actually storm Area 51, the eerie, mysterious military base that conspiracy theorists believe contains extraterrestrial life. Roberts stated the reason for his sudden back away from the event was due to “the lack of infrastructure, poor planning, risk management and blatant disregard for the safety of the expected 10,000+ AlienStock attendees.” Although the actual outcome of the event was incredibly chill, the only people really upset were the people of the town of Rachel, Nevada. “The locals are not on board, nobody asked us, and we don’t appreciate anyone threatening to take over our town,” Joerg Arnu told TIME back in August. Luckily, to the locals’ surprise, the crowd was manageable, music wasn’t too loud, and there were fewer than 10 arrests made. Everything went very smoothly,” Carswell says. “People had water, they had access to toilets. Everything people needed, they had access to.” Danny Philippou, an Australian YouTuber who attended the “raid”was one of hundreds making fun of the mildness of this so called “raid.” Even the air force stated they were “expecting a crazier event, and this was nothing they couldn’t handle.” Even when the YouTuber ran right up to the gates of Area 51, the guards were laughing, “The guards were unbelievably nice. They took photos with everyone, and we’re pretty much just smiling.They were really just there to act as a deterrent, they were having just as much fun as us.”
Keith Wright, one of the main basecamp organizers, stated the type of crowd he wanted to attract that night: “we’re focusing on the true believers, we’re not looking for a rave in the desert.” Mr. Wright reportedly spent over $200,000 of his own money in planning to bring a variety of different supplies into the desert that evening. This included about 80 portable bathrooms, generators, food trucks, security, emergency services, and a semi-truck filled with bottled water. The event brought a sense of safe community to the thousands that did attend; it was all part of “the experience that celebrates aliens and the unknown,” BuzzFeed News reported. One resident of Las Vegas, Eric Holloway, held a campaign called “Green Lives Matter,” and talked a big game about wanting to storm the facility, but never actually lived up to the hype. “I think we are finally ready to learn about what goes on inside [Area 51]. This generation would be more receptive towards aliens than the previous ones,” he said. He then continued to say that even if he did get past the gate, the actual base is more than 20 miles in, making it very inconvenient to actually raid the base.
The “raid” was very targeted towards those who are strong believers in the extraterrestrial, for they had alien-themed carnival rides, non-stop EDM music, and heaps of alien-themed merchandise. However, those who really wanted to see something headed towards the “Storm Area 51 Basecamp,” an event set up right outside Hiko, Nevada, in the middle of the desert. The crowd here, however, was mainly just journalists and locals buying speciality alien T shirts, hats, posters, and even rumored “alien poop” found in the base which was bargained for only $10. UFOologists have been puzzled by the appearance of these stones for decades, with them only being spotted near where alien activity was reported. What makes this discovery special is, if you crack it open sometimes you can find rare geodes inside. When the discoverers of this odd situation found out about the raid, they saw it as a perfect opportunity to get fellow alien lovers in the spirit.
So, in the end, the Area 51 “raid” really wasn’t a raid at all, and honestly that’s probably for the best for everybody who participated regarding their safety. However, it wasn’t a total bust, for it was a crazy way to show how powerful social media can be. Just one viral facebook post and suddenly millions are persuaded to storm Area 51, potentially risking their lives. One Facebook joke, and suddenly, the US military is involved, showing the capacity we hold by the decisions we make on social media and the impact we can have on people. It also shows how much we all think the government is hiding something. But if nothing else, the Area 51 raid brought a sense of community to a large group of people who shared common interests. Strangers on social media met in real life and friendships were formed at what seemed to be more like a party than a “raid.” Whether or not there are really aliens at Area 51 will remain a mystery. What do you think? Is the government hiding something in the mysterious military base that is Area 51?