The viral campaign to “storm Area 51” has turned into a festival outside the military base at 3 a.m. Friday morning, despite the organizer’s plan to cancel the event altogether.
The spontaneous festival began the date set by the original Facebook event, “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us,” which the organizer, Matty Roberts, created as a joke to “see them aliens,” Reuters reported.
“A bunch of random people in weird costumes standing outside of a government base, why would you want to miss that?” said Atozy, a YouTube personality, early Friday morning. “That’s a once in a lifetime experience.”
The subject of countless conspiracies, especially regarding extraterrestrial life and UFOs, Area 51 is a widely known secret Air Force base in Nevada that conducts numerous tests on Air Force equipment.
“They’re just here to see what’s going on,” said Sergeant Orlando Guerra of the Nevada Department of Public Safety Investigation Division. “They’re here to have fun.”
— FDE Tweets (@fdeuae) September 20, 2019
Despite the event being canceled due to its viral campaign that amassed more than a million Facebook users who said they were interested in attending, whether or not they were seriously considering storming the secret base anyway, the Air Force wasn’t taking any chances.
While most people stayed outside its boundaries, one attendee attempted to get in, but was briefly detained.
— Gizmodo (@Gizmodo) September 20, 2019
“Our nation has secrets, and those secrets deserve to be protected,” said Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein during a roundtable discussion at the annual Air, Space and Cyber conference this week. “People deserve to have our nation’s secrets protected.”
When asked if the Air Force actually hides aliens at Area 51, Goldfein jokingly deflected and pointed back to the humor of a Richard Branson story.
Richard Branson is the billionaire founder of Virgin Group and, as an April Fool’s Day prank, he landed a hot air balloon outside London, was met by the cops and emerged dressed in an alien costume.
“But all joking aside, we are taking this very seriously,” Goldfein said.
Roberts canceled the event last week, telling the Washington Post on Sept. 10 that there was “no safety or security that can really be promised.”
He added that he feared a potential “humanitarian disaster.”
“I didn’t feel comfortable with inviting even my friends and family out to this event, let alone these thousands of strangers,” he said.
Jason Strand, 23, said that he and nine friends traveled from Utah to the site to take in the scene, noting that he did not want to raid the base.
“We came out here to see the dumb people make a run for it,” he said.