Area 51 raid, Alienstock, Naruto runs and how to keep up with it all live

They really showed up! Here's the latest on events in the Nevada desert celebrating aliens.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Expertise Breaking news, entertainment, lifestyle, travel, food, shopping and deals, product reviews, money and finance, video games, pets, history, books, technology history, and generational studies Credentials
  • Co-author of two Gen X pop-culture encyclopedia for Penguin Books. Won "Headline Writer of the Year"​ award for 2017, 2014 and 2013 from the American Copy Editors Society. Won first place in headline writing from the 2013 Society for Features Journalism.
Gael Cooper
4 min read
Facebook Page Created As Joke To "Storm Area 51" Becomes Viral Sensation

An alienlike statue displays a sign welcoming guests to the Little A'le' Inn restaurant and gift shop in Rachel, Nevada, which'll be the site of much insanity this weekend.

David Becker/Getty Images

Area 51 has long been a rich piece of American pop culture. Are aliens kept there? Super secret spaceships? Men in black with memory-wiping devices? The Nevada facility regularly pops up in movies like Independence Day and TV shows like The X-Files, but it made the news this summer for a joke that turned into more than one actual planned event.

How did it start?

In June 2019, Matty Roberts, a 21-year-old Bakersfield, California, college student, created a Facebook event titled Storm Area 51, They Can't Stop All of Us. The supposed joke event urged people to raid the US government facility on Friday, Sept. 20.

"We will all meet up at the Area 51 Alien Center tourist attraction and coordinate our entry," the original text read. "If we Naruto run, we can move faster than their bullets. Let's see them aliens." ("Naruto run" refers to an especially awkward way of running depicted in the Japanese anime Naruto, where main character Naruto Uzumaki flings his arms out behind him.)

As a joke, the event is an entertaining play on America's lengthy fascination with extraterrestrials and the mysterious Area 51. But as a real event, it left a lot to be desired.

Three separate events

The US Air Force warned people that storming its property wouldn't be taken lightly. But with more than 2 million people RSVPing to attend the event, and at least some of them appearing to be serious, multiple events are now set for the weekend. None, however, promises an illegal raid on military property (at least not officially). That planned raid turned out to be more or less a weird costume party at the gate of the national security site Friday. 

Alienstock: Scenes from the ground of the Area 51 raid

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Alienstock in Rachel, Nevada

At first, Roberts and other organizers worked with Connie West, who owns the Little A'Le'Inn Motel in tiny Rachel, Nevada, to create an alien-themed music festival dubbed Alienstock to be held in the Rachel area Sept. 19-21. It's a first for this tiny town. Rachel has roughly 50 residents, no gas station and no street lights. 

Roberts backed out, reportedly due to concern about permits and other details, but the event is still continuing without him. 

CNET's own Erin Carson attended the first day of the Rachel event and reported on what she saw. So far, crowds have been relatively small, and calm. 

But look, Erin found the first captured alien!

Alien Stock in Las Vegas

You know one city that's expert at hosting giant crowds? Las Vegas. 

So another event, also apparently called Alien Stock, was held at the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center, on Sept. 19 at 8 p.m, featuring electric dance music and unique art. Roberts, the maker of the meme that started it all, was involved with this event. Las Vegas NBC channel 3 reported that "hundreds" of people attended.

'Storm' Area 51 Basecamp Experience in Hiko, Nevada

Rachel isn't the only rural Nevada location hosting an alien event this weekend. The Alien Research Center in the small community of Hiko is also partying. 

This event, dubbed the "Storm" Area 51 Basecamp Experience, promises live music, UFO-themed speakers, food trucks and art installations. DJ Paul Oakenfold will perform, and the 2018 documentary "Bob Lazar: Area 51 & Flying Saucers" will be shown. Like Rachel, Hiko isn't much of a place, so visitors are staying in tents of RVs. Ticketmaster is selling passes for the event.

But hey, Arby's fast-food chain is taking a food truck to the center, and it'll serve dishes including the E.T. Slider and the Galaxy shake.

Other random facts

  • The Federal Aviation Administration is closing down the airspace over Area 51 during and after the weekend events.
  • Two men from the Netherlands pleaded guilty to misdemeanor trespass and illegal parking following their arrests at the Nevada National Security Site. Though the men were at a different location, they reportedly told authorities they wanted to take video of Area 51, and one of their attorneys blamed the publicity over the Storm Area 51 event for their Sept. 10 arrest.
  • Bud Light is offering free beer to any alien that escapes Area 51, and has released an alien-themed beer can. The beer was the official sponsor of the downtown Las Vegas event.

How to watch it all unfold

If you prefer to watch the craziness from your own couch, here are a couple of streams that were live earlier. (Come on, Area 51 fans, someone pick up the mantle and livestream NOW.)

Not a livestream, but still worth keeping an eye on: noted DJ Paul Oakenfold promises updates for British music publication Mix Magazine as he prepares to perform Saturday night at the event in Hiko.

And keep an eye on social media, of course. Our reporter on the scene is tweeting from the desert and Twitter has some fun memes and jokes going.

The greatest alien encounter movies ever, ranked

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Originally posted Sept. 19 and will be updated as news comes in.