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A man in an alien mask stands at an entrance to the Nevada Test and Training Range near Area 51.
A man in an alien mask stands at an entrance to the Nevada Test and Training Range near Area 51.
Image: John Locher via AP

About 75 people gather at Area 51 to 'storm the facility'

The Storm Area 51 invitation spawned festivals in the tiny Nevada towns of Rachel and Hiko.
Sep 20th 2019, 8:40 PM 39,373 34

AROUND 75 PEOPLE arrived at a gate at the once-secret Area 51 military base in Nevada at the time appointed by an internet hoaxster to “storm” the facility to see space aliens — and one person was arrested, authorities said.

The Storm Area 51 invitation spawned festivals in the tiny Nevada towns of Rachel and Hiko nearest the military site, and a more than two-hour drive from Las Vegas.

Lincoln County Sheriff Kerry Lee estimated late that about 1,500 people had gathered at the festival sites and said more than 150 people also made the rugged trip several additional miles on  dirt roads to get within selfie distance of the gates.

A man who was urinating near the gate was arrested and a woman was detained for an undisclosed reason, Lee said.

Millions of people had responded to a June internet post calling for people to run into the remote US. Air Force test site that has long been the focus of UFO conspiracy theories.

“They can’t stop all of us,” the post joked. “Lets see them aliens.”

The military responded with stern warnings that lethal force could be used if people entered the Nevada Test and Training Range, and local and state officials said arrests would be made if people tried.

“It’s public land,” the sheriff said. “They’re allowed to go to the gate, as long as they don’t cross the boundary.”

A music group called Wily Savage erected a stage yesterday near the Little A’Le’Inn in Rachel and began playing after dark for several hundred campers who braved overnight temperatures about seven degrees.

Daniel Martinez, 31, a Pokemon collectible cards dealer from Pomona, California, was among the first to whirl and dance at the dusty makeshift festival grounds — warm beneath a wolf “spirit hood” and matching faux fur jacket.

“Here’s a big open space for people to be,” he said. “One person starts something and it infects everybody with positivity. Anything can happen if you give people a place to be.”

 

Michael Ian Borer, a University of Nevada, Las Vegas, sociologist who researches pop culture and paranormal activity, called the festivities sparked by the internet joke “a perfect blend of interest in aliens and the supernatural, government conspiracies, and the desire to know what we don’t know”.

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Garreth MacNamee

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