It’s here. The countdown has started and ended. Alien-interested people descended on Nevada at the gate of a secret military base for the Area 51 Raid. A few of them anyway. But when exactly was this supposed to start and end?
The Area 51 raid ignited through a Facebook event that went viral, but in the end it was kind of a letdown (you can see photos and videos throughout this article). There’s a website for the Area 51 raid, which you can see here. The event was called, “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us.” It was planned for Friday, September 20, 2019 from 3 AM – 6 AM PDT.
The page for the raid reads, “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.” Area 51 is a secret U.S. Air Force military installation that is located at Groom Lake, Nevada. Some people mix up Roswell, New Mexico with Area 51; people who believe in aliens think they crashed in Roswell, but they insist the government is housing the bodies in Nevada at Area 51. The raid was supposed to prove that. It didn’t.
What is a naruto run? It’s inspired by “Naruto Uzumaki the Japanese manga character who runs with his head down and arms stretched behind him,” according to Time Magazine. One kid went viral when he did the naruto run behind a reporter:
Technically, the raid was cancelled a long time ago after it started to go viral (the event page creator said it was all satirical), but that didn’t stop some people from showing up anyway when the big moment arrived. Key word: “some.” As in, nowhere near the millions of people who once indicated an interest on Facebook. Those who showed up didn’t get very far. Live videos, which you can watch throughout this article, streamed as they gathered in the darkness to plan the storming of the gates. Photos showed the paltry showdown. No one made it past the cops who lined up with a police dog. There were definitely more people writing about it on Twitter than were actually there. Area 51 was not breached. The government’s secrets remain just that. Estimates varied from a couple hundred to a couple dozen people. Reuters described the crowd as “several dozen revelers.” The Guardian reported that 75 people showed up.
Here’s what you need to know:
One Man Said He Showed Up to ‘See the Dumb People Make a Run for It
Law enforcement officials weren’t taking any chances. They’ve been preparing for this for weeks. You never knew who was going to show up. In the end, a few people did. Jason Strand, 23, of Utah, was one of those people. He told Reuters that he “came out here to see the dumb people make a run for it.” CBS News reported that one person was arrested at the raid. That charge was for public urination.
“Are you going to run toward it?” a man asked in the livestream below that chronicled some people’s “failed” attempts to actually do this. One man was wearing a space helmet. He commented that he was the “only one in a space helmet.” Another man insisted, “We’re doing the storm!” It was night out. They announced that they failed, though.
One man showed up literally wearing a tinfoil hat.
According to Reuters, a “couple hundred” campsites sprouted up in the area near Las Vegas.
The Crowd Gathered Outside the Gate But It Wasn’t Very Rowdy
The closest anyone got to an alien was an inflatable one.
At 3 a.m., on September 20, 2019, people were already showing up at the Area 51 gate, but they weren’t getting very far, local journalists at the scene confirmed. “Hundreds show up at #Area51 gate around 3am. One woman in her 20s tried to cross, but was detained,” wrote journalist Gerard Ramalho, of KSNV-TV. He also reported a crowd outside the gate, but no major incidents. You can watch some live videos from the scene here.
According to the Las Vegas Review Journal, “law enforcement officers blocked the road about a mile from the gate, with attendees walking the rest of the way. ” There were about a dozen officers at the gate, and they even brought a police dog at the 3 a.m. scheduled start time, the newspaper reported. The Review Journal estimated the raiders at about 100 people.
Did anyone actually storm it? Well, sort of. According to the Las Vegas newspaper, they “acted” as if they were going to try, but people started to laugh. The song “Final Countdown” played.
Nathan Brown, 21, showed up from Oregon. “I’m a little disappointed because it’s a lot less people than they said online,” he said to the newspaper. “I don’t think I’ll be back (to the area). This was kind of the thing.” According to Reuters, the government first revealed the base existed in 2013 and it’s “used to test top-secret spy planes.”
The Independent reported that “at the gate to Area 51 itself, some people did gather. They gathered round, chatted, took some photos and joked. While there are reports of at least one arrest, there was no attempt to storm Area 51.” Other alien-related events were also occurring in the area: Alienstock in Las Vegas; a festival celebrating aliens in Hiko; and another Alienstock in Rachel.
Even brands got into the fun. On July 15, 2019, Bud Light initially wrote on Twitter: “We’d like to be the first brand to formally announce that we will not be sponsoring the Area 51 raid.”
However, the brand then had a change of heart. “Screw it. Free Bud Light to any alien that makes it out,” Bud Light wrote on Twitter. There’s no word on Bud Light’s definition of “alien,” of course.
Whether aliens would prefer Bud Light anyway is an open question. Whether anyone actually found an alien is negative, since people didn’t make it past the gate, its officers or police dog.
More Than 2 Million People Expressed an Interest in the Raid But They Didn’t All Show Up
The Facebook page for the group says that more than 1.7 million people were going, and 1.2 million people were interested in going. That number grew to more than 2 million who were interested. Fox Business describes Area 51 as a “top-secret military base in the Nevada desert.” For years, rumors and conspiracy theories have flown that aliens landed on earth and were being kept at Area 51.
Only a small fraction of the 2 million people showed up, though. Be forewarned: Law enforcement is not thrilled with the raid, and you approach the gate at your own risk.
Two Dutch YouTubers found that out the hard way when they were arrested miles into a security site near Area 51, according to CNN. However, their arrests occurred days before the actual raid.
The U.S. Air Force has warned people not to show up for the raid. “[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. … The U.S. Air Force always stands ready to protect America and its assets,” Air Force spokeswoman Laura McAndrews told The Washington Post.
The event’s creator, Matty Roberts, insisted he never really meant for the raid to happen; rather, he’s said it was satirical in nature. “It’s entirely satirical,” he told NPR under a pseudonym, “and most people seem to understand that.” However, the raid has exploded on social media where it appears that some people are taking it seriously after all. According to NPR, people have been booking hotel rooms in the area for the date of the supposed raid.
Alienstock also held a free event in the area on September 19.