What happened at the Area 51 ‘raid’

Reporter Emily Neria interviews the attendees of Alienstock 2019 in Rachel, Nevada

Two million people signed up for the Facebook event to “raid Area 51” on September 20th. When that event evolved into a music festival called AlienStock 2019, over 30,000 people RSVPd.

Invader Q-tip and Invader Stink enjoy Area 51 festivities. Photo credit: Stanley Flores

Nevada’s Lincoln County declared a state of emergency. The venue, a hotel and bar called The Little A’Le’Inn, could not provide food, water, and gas for all of the guests. The county combined resources even though they were unsure if people would arrive at all.

When the date finally rolled around, they got their answer. Authorities estimate about 1,500 people were in Rachel, Nevada for the event on Friday. Visitors in alien costumes, tin foil hats and Naruto gear parked their cars and pitched tents on either side of the long two-lane desert road.

The owner of the inn, Connie West, was happy to see so many people show up.

“I am on my highest high,” West said. “I don’t think there’s a word in the dictionary to describe how I feel.”

A51 inmate.JPG
An attendee dressed as an “Area 51 inmate” waves a sign outside of Area 51. Photo credit: Emily Neria

Visitors came from all over the United States. A woman from Mt. Vernon, Ohio said that she wasn’t sure what to expect, but that she was definitely happy with what she saw.

Other visitors felt that the excursion wasn’t worth it. Roland Pittman and his friend Asa Robinson drove for three days to get to Rachel from New Jersey.

“There’s no one here doing anything,” Pittman said. Though, he had made a foil hat for himself earlier that day.

Some extraterrestrial-seekers travelled overseas for the event. Chani, a visitor from Germany, decided to add Alienstock to his west coast tour. He enjoyed playing pick-up volleyball on the net somebody set up in the dirt field.

A51 let my people go-opt.jpg
Two million people signed up for the fictional Facebook event to “raid Area 51” on September 20th. Photo credit: Emily Neria

From Australia, Jo Jamin and his daughters Bethany and Brooke stopped by the festival on their road trip across the U.S.

“There’s no reception, which is really sad, cause I wanted to show all my friends Area 51,” Bethany said. “But other than that, it’s quite fun.”

Some folks saw the event as a business opportunity. A retired chemistry teacher from Memphis made and sold T-shirts upon his granddaughter’s request. His granddaughter had wanted to go to the Alienstock festival to see a band she liked, but the band apparently pulled out so she did, too.

“It was her idea to have the alien on the shirt Naruto running like that.”

A trio of graphic designers from Massachusetts drew a crowd to the back of their van by selling posters and handing out free chicken burritos. They managed to sell out by the end of the night.

“I don’t know about you guys, but I came, I conquered and I saw,” said their frontman, Ali. “I swear to god I touched the Area 51 gate.”

Fortunately, the event seemed to be a peaceful success.

A51 musicians in front of inn.JPG
Many people at the Area 51 “raid” just played music and hung out. Photo credit: Emily Neria

A local property owner commented that most people are just having fun and buying drinks and as long as it stays like that, everything will be fine.

Authorities said on Friday there were fewer than ten arrests and that each was only a misdemeanor.

When night fell, there was no raiding or storming to be seen. Instead, people crowded around the two different stages and danced to remixes of Star Wars theme songs and Pokémon battle music.

DVDDY, a DJ who headlined the event, said that he hopes they can do this again next year.

“This is such an organic event, you know?” He said. “This isn’t like a big business thing. You don’t see these huge sponsors out here. This is all a bunch of people from all across the world.”

The first-ever Alienstock and Area 51 “raid” went down without major consequences. It’s not decided if the festival will turn into an annual occurrence, but perhaps this year was the start of an extraterrestrial-themed tradition.

Emily Neira can be reached at [email protected]