What Really Happened at the Area 51 Raid

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At the festival, Bud Light offered a special edition beer based on the alien theme.

Alyssa Cassell, Staff Writer

The idea of stealing aliens and exploring the secretive Area 51 to prove popular conspiracy theories took the internet by storm when, on June 27, 2019, an ordinary man named Matty Roberts, created an event on Facebook. The event, called “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All Of Us,” was intended to be a joke, but ended up going viral. More than 2 million people RSVPed to the event, with 1.5 million more responding that they were “interested.” 

The raid was scheduled for September 20, 2019, and quickly gained popularity as a giant raid of the government’s highly protected Area 51. According to several news outlets, such as NBC, Fox News, and CNN, it was hyped up to be one of the biggest events of the year, and caused the US government a fair amount of stress, as officials were briefed on the possibly chaotic event and how to handle it. They also discouraged people from attempting to break into government property, warned people of the legalities of trespassing, and even spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on extra security for the day of the event. After the scare, there were plans for a music festival to take place in the town nearest to Area 51, Rachel instead.

However, as the months passed by, many lost interest in the future raid. The internet joke that captivated people of all ages began to lose credibility, especially to teenagers. The wild and weird idea that intrigued avid internet users quickly gained criticism, even by Adams students. 

Senior Shannon Grates ridiculed the event as being “too obnoxious and ridiculous. It is so random and unnecessary that it’s just stupid.” 

Many other students agree. This lack of interest, along with changes in the event’s organization, resulted in a poor turnout on the actual day of the event. Less than two weeks before the event commenced, Roberts, the main organizer of the raid, completely changed the plan of the event, which by that time was dubbed, “Alienstock.” He decided to make the event a large dance party in downtown Las Vegas, spreading the news on the official event website.

Mick Akers
Sign welcoming attendees of the event to the town of Rachel

When this happened, co-founder of the event and local shop owner, Connie West, took over responsibilities for the original event. To avoid legal issues, she changed the name to “Alien-stock,” but kept plans to host a large rave in her small town of 54 people in the middle of the desert. With all this confusion, the number of participants continued to dwindle, although updates were constantly being posted on the town’s website.

Nevertheless, about 6000 people made it out to the event, according to a spokesperson from news outlet Vox. One live band and a few DJs showed up to play, and the once feared storming turned into a fun, social event where alien, conspiracy theory, and internet lovers could make new friends and party. A special Bud Light alien edition beer and T-shirts for the event were sold to attendees, who enjoyed the unique experience.

 No one was more pleased than coordinator West, though. “I’m proud of me,” she stated to news outlets at the event. “I’ve never been to a festival in my life, and hell, I pulled it off.” 

Alternatively, around 150 people arrived at the entrance of Area 51, but none succeeded in entering the site. Only 7 arrests were made for trespassing, with one also related to alcohol and one related to indecent exposure. Fortunately, no serious incidents occurred.

Overall, the event wasn’t all that it was expected to be, but it wasn’t a total disaster either. Some of the rave-goers were even excited to see the event continue annually. Rachel residents are not pleased by the idea of a possibly bigger, more chaotic gathering occurring in 2020, but West and others are trying to build interest in creating a more coordinated event for following years. Whether the festival will continue to take place is still a mystery, but one thing is for sure– the story of Alien-stock 2019 will go down in history.