Early Friday morning, a handful of people showed up at the gates of Area 51 for the "Storm Area 51" event, complete with signs and costumes. Once there, the people were met by the armed guards outside the Air Force base, who were prepared to stop them from storming the gates. Although a Facebook page showed more than 2 million people planned to attend, it has been reported that only 75 people showed up.
Only a few actually tried to enter the military base. ABC News reports that none of the attendees made it past the first gate.
People began showing up at around 3 a.m. PT on Friday. Most of those who showed up understood it was a joke, with some wearing tin foil hats, others wearing alien masks. One person held a sign reading "Free E.T. from the government."
"A bunch of random people in weird costumes standing outside of a government base, why would you want to miss that?" YouTuber Atozy told Reuters. "That’s a once in a lifetime experience."
Local officials and armed guards were at the base, prepared for any shenanigans. At least two people were detained, Ties Garnzier, 20, and Govert Charles Wilhelmus Jacob Sweep, 21, both from the Netherlands. They pleaded guilty to charges of trespassing and illegal parking. They were sentenced to a year behind bars, but told their sentence could be reduced to just three days if they pay the $2,280 fine.
"It was important to us that these men serve jail time and pay a substantial financial penalty. We take this crime seriously. And people need to understand that we will not put up with this kind of nonsense," Nye County District Attorney Chris Arabia said.
Another young woman made it past a protective gate and was only briefly detained before being released. Law enforcement officials said most attendees did stay outside the perimeter.
"They’re just here to see what’s going on," Sergeant Orlando Guerra of the Nevada Department of Public Safety Investigation Division told Reuters. "They’re here to have fun."
The "Storm Area 51" event was first scheduled as a joke by college student Matty Roberts. More than 2 million people said they would attend. Roberts tried to cancel the event out of fears of a "possible humanitarian disaster in the works."
"Due to the lack of infrastructure, poor planning, risk management and blatant disregard for the safety of the expected 10,000+ AlienStock attendees, we decided to pull the plug on the festival," the AlienStock website read. "We just don't want anyone to get injured or stuck in the middle of the desert."
Rachel officials still tried to mount their own AlienStock event. The town posted a statement on its website, calling the event "botched."
"Instead of the expected 50,000+ visitors we see a few hundred. There are no food vendors and very little infrastructure or organization. Occasionally music can be heard from a makeshift stage on a dusty dirt lot," the statement reads. "Some campers are parked all over town and the surrounding public land. Not surprisingly this has turned into a Fyre Fest 2.0. Those still visiting should be prepared to be completely self contained for food, water, gas and a place to sleep. There are no services in Rachel besides the local bar."0comments
Rachel, a small town of just 50 year-round residents, is about 12 miles from Area 51. The base has long been shrouded in mystery, and conspiracy theorists believe alien testing goes on there. The government did not even confirm it existed until 2013, and it is now used to rest aircraft and for training.
Photo credit: BRIDGET BENNETT/AFP/Getty Images