RACHEL, Nevada (Reuters) – Many UFO enthusiasts gathered in rural Nevada on Thursday for a pilgrimage to the US facility known as Area 51, long rumored to have government secrets about alien life, while Police authorities enforced security around the military base.
Visitors descended early in Rachel's small desert town, a short distance from the military site, in response to a recent viral social media invitation to "storm" Area 51 on Friday, raising concerns from local authorities about unruly crowds overwhelming them. the community.
Situated about 240 km north of Las Vegas, the remote village of just 50 residents all year round lacks a supermarket or even a gas station.
Thursday's visitors set up a small camp outside Rachel's only business – the extraterrestrial-themed Little A'n Motel and restaurant – parking in cars, tents and trailers. Some tourists hung inflatable aliens from their campers.
A couple, Nicholas Bohen and Cayla McVey, both with UFO tattoos, traveled to Rachel in Los Angeles's Fullerton suburb with enough food to last a week's camp.
"It has evolved into a peaceful gathering, a sharing of life stories," McVey told Reuters, assessing the crowd. "I think you'll get a group of prepared, respectful people who know what they want to do."
The song was scheduled to start Thursday night and continue for another two days. It is not yet clear whether there will be a mass walk to area 51 on Friday.
The military site was shrouded in secrecy for decades, fueling conspiracy theories that housed the remains of a flying saucer and the bodies of its alien crew from the crash of an unidentified flying object in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947. The US government US did not confirm that the base existed until 2013 when it released CIA files saying the site was used to test ultra-secret spy planes.
Rachel and her surroundings, however, celebrated her place in the UFO tradition as a tourist attraction. A 158-kilometer road that crosses the area is called the Extraterrestrial Road, a supposed hotbed of UFO sightings.
Dust blows in the desert as an influx of tourists is expected to respond to a call to the Area 51 "storm", a secret US military base that UFO enthusiasts believe holds government secrets about extraterrestrials in Rachel, Nevada, USA, on September 19. 2019. REUTERS / Jim Urquhart
"DO NOT STOP"
In June, California college student Matty Roberts posted a facet invitation on Facebook urging the general public to walk into Area 51 on foot to "see them aliens."
When more than 1 million people expressed interest, the US Air Force warned onlookers not to breach the gates of the military base, which is still used to test combat aircraft and train personnel.
Roberts then teamed up with Connie West, co-owner of the Little A'Le Inn, to plan a Rachel music festival nicknamed "Alienstock."
In early September, however, Roberts disengaged from Rachel's event, saying it was poorly organized and feared it could turn into a public safety crisis. Instead, he helped set up an alternate Alienstock scenario that would take place Thursday night in Las Vegas.
West said the event on Rachel would continue as planned.
About 40 miles east, the small town of Hiko planned an event called "Storm Area 51 Basecamp" at a gift shop dubbed Alien Research Center. Organizers promised musicians, artists and "prominent ufologists" and on Thursday had sold 3,200 tickets, according to store manager Linda Looney.
"This was a shock to this small community," she said, adding that organizers hired 15 security guards and a private ambulance and ordered 80 portable toilets. "It's going to be really cool. I'm excited."
The influx of alien hunters has led Lincoln County, which includes Rachel and Hiko, to draw up a declaration of emergency that could be invoked to call for state help.
The sheriff's office said visitors should expect "a large police presence." Authorities urged everyone to bring ample supplies of food, water and fuel.
The five sheriff patrol cars were posted on Thursday outside the Area 51 gate, where several people came to take pictures.
Slideshow (18 Images)
Despite a festive and peaceful atmosphere in the city, Rachel's official website was decidedly hostile.
"If any event still happens, it will be a very sad affair, no bands, no food, little infrastructure and many unhappy campers," he said.
Lisa Richwine reporting on Rachel, Nev. Editing by Steve Gorman and Leslie Adler
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