Area 51 Raid: How Many People Actually Showed Up?

area 51 raid

Getty A photo of the Area 51 raid.

So, did anyone actually show up for the Area 51 Raid that was a big viral craze during the summer? After all, more than 2 million alien enthusiasts said they were interested in storming the gates of the secret Nevada military base, and the date has arrived.

The original raid was actually cancelled when its organizer said it was all just a joke and the Air Force warned it wasn’t a great idea, but some people stuck to the original start time: 3 a.m. PDT on September 20, 2019. The raid was supposed to end at 6 a.m.

Journalists at the scene said that, at most, a couple hundred people showed up. One Las Vegas newspaper put the number at about 100 people. Reuters described the crowd as “several dozen revelers.” The Guardian said 75 people were at the gate. There were some entertaining live videos that popped up, though. Photos from the scene give a sense of the crowd. Some people wore spacesuits. Some people wore tinfoil hats (literally). Some people carried inflatable aliens. Some people let inflatable aliens carry them. According to the Guardian, more people showed up for various alien festivals tied to the raid than were at the actual raid, estimating that number at about 1,500.

According to the Guardian, the gate is located “on washboard dirt roads,” and is a “rugged” journey, but about 150 people managed “to get within selfie distance.” CBS News reported that one person was arrested at the raid. That charge was for public urination.

Here’s what you need to know:

People Showed Up Wearing Space Helmets & Toting Signs But They Didn’t Find Any Aliens Because They Didn’t Get Inside

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GettyAlien-hunters gather to “storm” Area 51.

The Area 51 raid was started by a Facebook event that went viral. The page 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. There’s a website for the Area 51 raid, which you can see here. The event was originally called, “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us.”

An attendee is detained then released after briefly physically crossing a security line.

Here’s one of the live videos. It shows people in space helmets and in the dark, insisting they were still going to storm the gates. But the video states outright that they failed.

This is backed up by local news reports from the scene. “A bunch of random people in weird costumes standing outside of a government base, why would you want to miss that?” said a man on YouTube, and police told Reuters that people just seemed like they were having fun.

The Alien Hoopla at the Gate Started in the Cloak of Darkness

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GettyAlien-hunters gather to “storm” Area 51.

At 3 a.m., on September 20, 2019, some people did show up. Not a lot of them, though. “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 that a crowd was gathering outside the gate, but no major incidents occurred. You can watch some other live videos from the scene here.

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.”

The local sheriff wasn’t answering his phone. Two days before the raid, the sheriff posted on Facebook: “Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office is finishing up the preparations for the upcoming event out in the Rachel and Hiko area this weekend. The crowds have started to arrive! Multiple other Law Enforcement Agencies are arriving in the area today and tomorrow to assist LCSO. Traffic in this area is going to be slow and possibly backed up on the US 93, SR 375 & SR 318 leading in to the events. There will be a large presence of law enforcement as well as First Responders on the roadways. PLEASE DRIVE CAREFUL AND RESPECT ALL EMERGENCY PERSONNELL!

Please be safe if you are in the area, and do not hesitate to contact ANY Law Enforcement Officer if you see or are in need of any assistance during this event. Our Sheriff and his Deputies, NV DPS/Nevada Highway Patrol and multiple other agencies will be there to enforce the laws. Please be careful and obey all the laws!”

There were also other alien-related events in the area: Alienstock in Las Vegas; a festival celebrating aliens in Hiko; and another Alienstock in Rachel.

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GettyAttendee Daniel Rodriguez wears at tinfoil hat as he and other Alien hunters gathered to “storm” Area 51 at an entrance near Rachel, Nevada.

Jason Strand, 23, of Utah, told Reuters he went to the gate to “see the dumb people make a run for it.”

One Newspaper Reported That Laughter Broke Out at the Gate When a Couple People Tried to Actually Storm It

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, adding that 100 people showed up to supposedly storm the gate.

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.

The Facebook page for the group showed that more than 2 million people were interested in going at one time. For years, rumors and conspiracy theories have flown that aliens landed on earth and were being kept at Area 51. People want to know if there’s any truth to that.

Two million people didn’t show up, though, and that probably made the U.S. military very happy.

The U.S. Air Force had warned people not to show up. They didn’t think any of it was very funny. “[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 was a college student named Matty Roberts, and he 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 exploded on social media. According to NPR, people booked hotel rooms in the area for the date of the supposed raid.

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GettyPeople gather to “storm” Area 51.

The police weren’t messing around at the event.

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GettyA man poses for photos as attendees gather to “storm” Area 51 at an entrance to the military facility near Rachel, Nevada on September 20, 2019.

They carted one alien hunter away.

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GettyAn attendee is detained after briefly physically crossing a security line, as people gathered to “storm” Area 51.

People carried colorful signs.

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GettyAttendee Ellie Urquhart walks past a security line as people gather to “storm” Area 51.

It all unfolded in the darkness.

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GettyAttendees depart after gathering to “storm” Area 51 at an entrance to the military facility.

Warning signs sent a message.

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GettyAttendees discuss with guards as they gather to “storm” Area 51.

Alienstock also held a free event in the area on September 19.

READ NEXT: Matty Roberts Created the Area 51 Raid Facebook Event Page.