For weeks, the internet has been obsessed with one story and one story only: the storming of Area 51 set to occur on September 20, 2019. This past Friday, after three months of hype and memery, the fateful raid day finally arrived. Across the nation, all eyes were on the top secret government base, eager to see just how many people would journey to the remote area in Nevada to uncover the secrets behind one of the U.S. government’s most classified facilities. America was disappointed. Despite the 2 million people who responded “going” on Facebook, only about 150 people actually arrived at Area 51.
The meme originated from a Facebook event entitled “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us” posted by 21-year-old Matty Roberts in June of 2019. The event proposed everyone meet up to “see them aliens.” It quickly went viral, with 2 million people responding “going” and another 1.5 million responding “interested.” Throughout the summer, the internet was abuzz with memes regarding the most effective ways to break into Area 51.
The growing internet plot worried U.S. law enforcement, who took preventative actions against the hypothetical raid. American authorities shut down the Facebook page, concerned about a potential disaster if large numbers of people were to show up at a remote location without internet or cell service. Government officials were briefed and urged people against entering military property, and the FBI stated that they would be keeping a close eye on the situation. Law enforcement officials issued stern warnings against entering Area 51, suggesting that any attempts to enter military property could result in the use of lethal force or the arrest of participants.
However, law enforcement officials stationed at Area 51 faced an underwhelming crowd on Friday. While seven arrests were made over the course of the weekend, most guests described the entire event as rather calm, a nice sense of community rather than the crazy riot expected from the Facebook event.
The weekend of the Area 51 raid, Nevada towns surrounding the base held music festivals which garnered around 1,500 attendees. Despite nerves from locals that their town facilities could not house the guests, the feared Fyre Festival-esque crisis was averted. The smaller-than-expected crowd meant everyone had access to water, toilets, and food all throughout the weekend.
The mystery surrounding Area 51 dates back decades. While Area 51 is technically not a “secret base,” all research and experiments conducted there are classified as Top Secret. This has prompted a myriad of conspiracy theories, the most common being that Area 51 houses extraterrestrial life or a crashed UFO. No one truly knows what is in Area 51, but 150 brave souls this past weekend certainly did their best to find out.