The Brief: News reports and social media posts about the events at Area 51 related to a meme about "storming" the government facility indicate that at least 75 people showed up at the gate and thousands more went to Nevada on September 20.
With much anticipation around the September 20th meme calling for people to “storm Area 51,” many people are wondering what’s actually happening at Area 51.
What’s Actually Happening?
With the Area 51 ‘raid,’ it’s difficult to discern meme from reality, but news reports have confirmed some information about the numbers of attendees, arrests, and Naruto runners. It seems that at least a few Kyles, Florida men, and weebs have made the trip out to rural Nevada in hopes of “seeing them aliens” and becoming a part of the meme. An estimated 75-150 people were present at the gate to the Area 51 military base early Friday morning.
This gate at is located on public land accessible by dirt road. As long as people don’t cross the boundary, they are not breaking the law. According to Lincoln, NV County Sheriff, Kerry Lee, more than 150 people traveled up to the gate itself and an estimated 1,500 people gathered at festival sites in nearby towns Rachel and Hiko. According to a CBS report, authorities claim that one person was arrested on a charge of public urination and another was detained early on Friday.
Some people have expressed their disappointment on social media that what’s happening at Area 51 is less epic than they had hoped. Compared to the 2+ million Facebook event RSVP’s a few thousand people may not seem like many.
Images of the event taken by news outlets and posted by individuals in attendance show scenes of goofily-dressed attendees peacefully congregating in the desert. It seems that many costumes drew from Area 51 memes and stereotypes about tinfoil hat-wearing conspiracy theorists.
— eVe (@sinscewinbear) September 20, 2019
A music festival known as AlienStock was planned for the weekend of September 20th expecting over 10,000 visitors in Rachel, Nevada. It was canceled as organizers cited planning issues and insufficient infrastructure. Instead, an alternative party of the same name took place in Las Vegas on September 19th.
— Mick Akers (@mickakers) September 20, 2019
Area 51 Basecamp
On September 20th and 21st, a gathering of alien-enthusiasts, conspiracy theorists, musicians, and speakers is taking place at the Alien Research Center on the Extraterrestrial Highway. This “Area 51 Basecamp” event is a safer and more organized option for those excited about Area 51 but who don’t actually want to ‘storm’ the facility.
— Mick Akers (@mickakers) September 18, 2019
From its inception, the Area 51 ‘raid’ has been about the memes more than anything else. In the days leading up to September 20th and on the day itself, social media sites have been flooded with content related to Area 51. Many memes consist of fake reports of people claiming they actually went to Area 51, while others joke about the absurdity of the event, the possibility of people actually “clapping alien cheeks,” and the surprisingly IRL potency of an internet meme.
Memes celebrating the now legendary Naruto runner who made it on camera behind a news reporter continue to circulate.
Expectations vs. what actually happened at Area 51:
A wholesome Stranger Things meme: