Storm Area 51: A look back and ahead one year later

Area 51

People enter and exit the Alien Research Center in Hiko, Nev. No one knows what to expect, but lots of people are preparing for “Storm Area 51” on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, in the Nevada desert. Neighbors, elected officials and experts say the craze sparked by an internet joke inviting people to “”see them aliens” might become a cultural marker, a dud or something in-between. (AP Photo/John Locher)

MYSTERY WIRE — A year ago this weekend, thousands of UFO-curious people descended on  the desert near the Area 51 military base for an event some predicted would be an alien Woodstock.

The event that began on Facebook as a joke quickly became known worldwide as Storm Area 51.

The initial online proposal was to have throngs of people storm across the line into the world’s best known secret base in hopes of ending UFO secrecy. The tagline to the event was, “They Can’t Stop All of Us.”

The event came and went in late September 2019. The crowd was much smaller than some had predicted, but most of those who showed up seemingly had a good time. No serious efforts were made to storm into the base, largely because of a strong law enforcement and military presence. 

Below are four video clips from the KLAS-TV coverage of Storm Area 51 on September 19 and 20, 2019

In the months and days leading up to the event, government agencies in Nevada were alarmed because sparsely populated Lincoln county could not possibly accommodate tens of thousands of visitors all at once, let alone millions.

People were warned to stay away, and the event was even formally cancelled on Facebook.

But people came anyway. Some camped out near  the Alien Research Center near Hiko, and others gravitated to the Little A’Le’Inn in the tiny community of Rachel.

Many of the people who made the trip wore costumes and partied in the desert. One of the only negative things to happen was when a local cow was hit and killed on the road to Rachel.

Matty Roberts, a 20-year-old from Bakersfield, California, was the man who sparked the Storm Area 51 phenomenon with a late-night Facebook post.

  • Storm Area 51

In the lead-up to the event he stopped working with Little A’Le’Inn owner Connie West over production disagreements involving the Rachel event. Roberts ended up hosting an outdoor event in downtown Las Vegas – also using the “Alienstock” name.

“Area 51 Basecamp” in Hiko began featuring music, speakers and movies — headlined by an electronic dance music DJ Paul Oakenfold.

In the year since then, some people have claimed it was a success, others say it was a failure. Lawsuits were filed, and Nevada governments have tallied up the costs of managing the crowds.

The events ended up costing Lincoln County $196,092.79. Nye County officials outlined that they spent almost $364,000 in emergency expenditures.

So the question now,  will it happen again?

The short answer is no, not this year. But according to George Harris, owner of the Alien Research Center in Hiko, he will sponsor future alien-themed events, once the pandemic subsides.

“We believe over the two-day period there were about 8,600 people. And we felt comfortable with that,” Harris told Mystery Wire. “And did we lose money? I lost a lot of money, but you know, and I had people make fun of me all you know, this guy lost like 40 grand which is true. I think I lost $42,000. But George, I got $10 million in free advertising worldwide.”

Harris said if it was not for covid, he would be organizing a large event again this year. Harris did say he wants to do something in October, but only after the current restrictions in Nevada of how many people can be together are lifted.

He said no matter when the next event happens, it will be more UFO-centric. Harris wants to have classes, speakers, music , and  food.

Harris also said the politics surrounding the event will be better controlled. “Rachel (NV) and I will work together,” Harris said. “You know, there was this whole thing where someone tried to start a big war between us. There’s no war. I’m actually good friends with Pat (Travis – former owner of Little A’Le’Inn). She’s wonderful. You know, people come into our store every day, coming to the research center and we tell them … because we don’t have food, we say if you’re going on into Rachael, you know that the food is great bar food. It really is. It’s a great place to go. And it’s just a little bar. And they’re nice people. And, you know, they’re 42 miles away from us, so there’s no way we can be competitors.”

In the days following the event, Connie West sued the creator of the Storm Area 51 craze and others for more than $50,000 over actions revolving around the alternate Alienstock event and its origins.

In January of this year the Nevada National Security Site, which is where Area 51 is located, sent out an internal document about lessons learned from the event.

The headline in the Lincoln County Record after the event summed it up well: “They Came, They Saw, They Left in Peace.”

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