The meme of the year culminated with a weird costume party at the gate to a famed national security site.
Millions RSVPed to a viral Facebook post calling for a massive "Naruto run" storming of Nevada's most notorious secret site. But when the moment finally came Friday, the scene at Area 51's back gate was a small crowd that looked like a cross between a political protest and a costume party. One man wore a lucha libre Mexican wrestling mask, while another waved the North Korean flag.
At one point the man in the mask stepped toward the barricaded gate marked with a stop sign and assumed the pose of a Naruto runner made popular by Japanese anime. An armed guard looked on as the crowd shouted "don't do it" and then ... nothing. The masked man simply turned around to be greeted by the clicks of cameras. The meme continues.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that the small group did a lot of standing and shouting, but no actual storming of the gate at the Nevada Test and Training Range, which includes Area 51. Footage of the scene shows what's essentially a party atmosphere, with even the guards seeming pretty amused by the whole thing.
Consequently, there appear to be about as many fake live streams of the event on YouTube as there were actual people at the gate. As of mid-morning in Nevada, several "live" streams showed the same dark, pre-dawn footage.
For decades, Area 51 has been the source of rumors and legends about an alleged government cover-up of its encounters with aliens and alien technology. In June, Facebook user Matty Roberts posted a hoax event on Facebook calling for the masses to meet at the gate at 3 a.m. on Sept. 20 to overwhelm the tightly guarded facility "to see them aliens."
With the "storming" now complete, thousands more people are expected to attend a pair of alien-themed music festivals in the tiny desert towns of Rachel and Hiko near Area 51. The Hiko site includes a mock Area 51 gate for visitors to storm safely for all their selfie-taking needs. Our reporter Erin Carson was on the ground at Rachel Friday and reported that crowds were calm. See her photos below.
Overall, there seems to be a lot more Naruto-running going on in the safety of these festival grounds, including this guy:
Meme imitates life, life imitates meme. This is the world we live in now. Stay safe out there, folks.
Originally published Sept. 20, 10:11 a.m. PT.