About 75 people arrived at the entrance to the once-secret Area 51 military site in the American state of Nevada early Friday to “storm” the base to see creatures from outer space.
Law enforcement officers detained at least two of the people.
In June, a post inviting people to storm the site appeared on the internet. Millions of people saw the message. The “Storm Area 51” invitation led to musical performances and other events in Rachel and Hiko, two small towns near the base.
Lincoln County Sheriff Kerry Lee estimated late Thursday that about 1,500 people had gathered for the events. Lee said more than 150 people traveled several additional kilometers down dirt roads to get within selfie distance of the facility.
Area 51 has long been reported as a place where the United States government held beings from other planets.
“They can’t stop all of us,” read the internet invitation. “Let's see them aliens.”
The military answered with warnings that deadly force could be used if people entered the Nevada Test and Training Range. State and local officials said arrests would be made if people tried.
“It’s public land,” said the sheriff. “They’re allowed to go to the gate, as long as they don’t cross the boundary.”
A music group called Wily Savage set up to perform Thursday near the Little A’Le’Inn hotel in Rachel. They began playing after dark for several hundred campers.
Daniel Martinez is a 31-year-old businessman from California. He was among the first to dance at the celebration. He wore a wolf “spirit hood” and a fur top. Air temperatures dropped to about seven degrees Celsius Thursday night.
“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.”
Other weekend events include a gathering Friday and Saturday at the Alien Research Center store in Hiko. Owner George Harris said those attending could enjoy music, movies and talks about extraterrestrial reports.
Officials reported no serious incidents related to the events, which are to take place through Sunday.
Michael Ian Borer is a sociologist working at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He studies popular culture and paranormal activity. Borer called the celebrations “a perfect blend of interest in aliens and the supernatural, government conspiracies, and the desire to know what we don’t know.”
He added that, “Area 51 is a place where normal, ordinary citizens can’t go. When you tell people they can’t do something, they just want to do it more.”
Eric Holt, the Lincoln County emergency manager, said he believed officials could deal with as many as 30,000 visitors. Still, neighbors prepared for trouble after millions of people answered the internet post.
“Those that know what to expect camping in the desert are going to have a good time,” said Joerg Arnu of Rachel. He was concerned about those who do not.
“It will get cold at night. They’re not going to find what they’re looking for, and they are going to get angry,” Arnu said.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration closed nearby airspace, although Air Force planes could be heard in the sky.
I’m Caty Weaver.
Ken Ritter reported this story for The Associated Press. Caty Weaver adapted it for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
Words in This Story
allow - v to permit (something): to consider or treat (something) as acceptable
boundary - n something that indicates or fixes a limit or extent
positivity - n the quality or state of being good and.or hopeful
extraterrestrial - adj coming from or existing outside the planet Earth
conspiracy - n a secret plan made by two or more people to do something that is harmful or illegal
ordinary - adj of a kind to be expected in the normal order of events
paranormal - adj not scientifically explainable
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