Area 51 events mostly peaceful; thousands in Nevada desert

A man stands at an entrance to the Nevada Test and Training Range near Area 51 Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, near Rachel, Nev. People gathered at the gate inspired by the “Storm Area 51” internet hoax. (AP Photo/John Locher)
People holds signs at an entrance to the Nevada Test and Training Range near Area 51 Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, near Rachel, Nev. People gathered at the gate inspired by the "Storm Area 51" internet hoax. (AP Photo/John Locher)
A man in an alien mask stands at an entrance to the Nevada Test and Training Range near Area 51 Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, outside of Rachel, Nev. People gathered at the gate inspired by the "Storm Area 51" internet hoax. (AP Photo/John Locher)
A mans holds an inflatable alien at an entrance to the Nevada Test and Training Range near Area 51 Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, near Rachel, Nev. People gathered at the gate inspired by the "Storm Area 51" internet hoax. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Events involving thousands of Earthlings answering an internet buzz about an invitation to “Storm Area 51” in the Nevada desert have been mostly festive, with crowds numbering in the low thousands and few arrests, officials said.

Three more people were arrested Friday on the remote once-secret military base, Lincoln County Sheriff Kerry Lee said, bringing to five the tally since Thursday of accused trespassers during “Alienstock” and “Area 51 Basecamp” events and festivals in the tiny desert towns of Rachel and Hiko.

Several minor injuries were reported, and one man was treated for dehydration by festival medics in Rachel before returning to the party.

While costumed space aliens were a common, dayglow, and sometimes hilarious sight, no one reported seeing actual extraterrestrials or UFOs.

“There’s a great sense of community among everyone here,” said John Derryberry, who drove with his girlfriend, Sarah Shore, from Nashville, Tennessee.

“It started as a joke and now people are getting to know each other,” said Tracy Ferguson, 23, of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He said the internet gave him the idea to drive to Nevada with his girlfriend, Jade Gore, 19, of Worthington, Minnesota.

Lee said a man reported missing Friday morning after heading Thursday from a festival campground in Hiko toward an Area 51 gate was found safe Friday evening. Details weren’t immediately made public, but his disappearance was not believed to have been an abduction.

Almost 100 people went at 3 a.m. Friday to the best-known “back gate” of the legendary former top-secret U.S. Air Force base, near of the tiny town of Rachel, and another 40 made a more difficult trek to a lesser-known gate in Tikaboo Valley, Lee said.

About 300 went to the Tikaboo gate during daylight, and another 800 people made the dusty 8-mile (13-kilometre) drive to the Rachel gate during the day, Lee said.

One, a woman in her 60s from California, was arrested after making it clear to sheriff’s deputies, her husband and everyone around her that she was going to trespass no matter what.

“It was just something she wanted to do,” said the sheriff, who was at the Rachel gate at the time.

Two men were arrested after military security officers found them in the mountains inside the perimeter of the base somewhere between the two gates, Lee said. Authorities were trying to determine how to tow their vehicle out of the rugged area.

The gates are marked by bright floodlights, watchful cameras and, at the Rachel gate, a squat tan bunker building with blackout windows — all surrounded by razor wire.

The sheriff in neighbouring Nye County reported that about 40 people dispersed after “heated warnings” from officers about 3 a.m. Friday near a base gate not far from a conspicuously green “Area 51 Alien Center” about 90 minutes’ drive west of Las Vegas.

Matty Roberts, a 20-year-old from Bakersfield, California, who sparked the Area 51 phenomenon with a late-night Facebook post in June and then broke with Little A’Le’Inn owner Connie West over production of the Rachel event, hosted a Thursday evening event at an outdoor venue in downtown Las Vegas — also using the “Alienstock” name.

“Area 51 Basecamp” was featuring music, speakers and movies Friday and Saturday at the Alien Research Center in Hiko. Business owner George Harris said he expected a crowd of 5,000, but Lee said the audience and nearby campers appeared to number in the hundreds.

Cyril Soudant, 25, of Lille, France, said at the Rachel gate that he was disappointed not to see more people.

Soudant took video for his YouTube channel and said he would wait until Friday night to make a final assessment about the experience.

“We all know we can’t cross the gate,” Soudant said. “But if tonight we get together, have some music, have some beers, that would be a success.”

Ken Ritter, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Province steps up with $250,000 for new Clements Centre facility in South Cowichan

New building will replace aging, smaller one in Valley’s south end

Editorial: Drivers who blow school bus stop signs need reality check

There cannot possibly be anything so important that it’s worth a dead or seriously injured child.

Coming up in Cowichan: Family fun at an arena near you; live Nativity and more

Free Christmas Family Skate at Kerry Park Sunday There will be a… Continue reading

Lake Flashback: December Madness hits the lake, Joe Allen named chair, golf club needs buyer

Welcome to Lake Flashback. Reporter Sarah Simpson has been combing through old… Continue reading

Fashion Fridays: A masterclass on H&M knitwear

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

B.C. Crown corporation immune from taxation, but still might have to pay GST: Court

British Columbia Investment Management Corporation may still be on hook for GPS payments

‘He was good for the West:’ Sadness, surprise in Saskatchewan over Scheer

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and his predecessor, Brad Wall, both thanked Andrew Scheer

Poll suggests travellers know little about air-passenger rights

The first set of passenger-rights rules landed in mid-July and the rest this weekend

Johnson claims Brexit mandate with new conservative majority

Conservative Party wins 365 seats in the House of Commons

‘British Columbians are paying too much’: Eby directs ICBC to delay rate application

Attorney General David Eby calls for delay in order to see how two reforms play out

VIDEO: Octopus, bald eagle battle after bird ‘bites off more than it can chew’ in B.C. waters

B.C. crew films fight between the two feisty animals in Quatsino off north Vancouver Island

Couple who bought $120k banana duct-taped to wall say artwork will be ‘iconic’

Pair compared it to Warhol’s ‘Campbell’s Soup Cans,’ which was initially ‘met with mockery’

Most Read