People are starting to show up in the Nevada desert for Alienstock, a music festival that sprang out of a viral Facebook plan to storm Area 51. Authorities say there were approximately 1,500 people in tiny Rachel, Nev., on Thursday, but police are expecting the numbers to reach 30,000 by Saturday.
WATCH: People descend on the tiny desert town of Rachel, Nev., this weekend for Alienstock.
And based on the first few events, most people are here for the jokes.
Approximately 75 visitors held a tongue-in-cheek “protest” outside the Area 51 gate on Friday morning, where they waved signs demanding freedom for the aliens who are supposedly trapped in government custody.
One sign showed a sad green alien behind bars. “Locked up for what?” it said.
Another featured the message “Clap alien cheeks” — an internet-slang reference to a vulgar act. Footage from the scene shows the protesters actually breaking out in chants of “Clap their cheeks!” on Friday morning.
More than 2 million users joined the original Facebook event to raid Area 51 in search of aliens over the summer. Their so-called “battle plan” was simple: overwhelm the facility through sheer numbers, and dodge bullets by executing a “Naruto run.” (The move is derived from an anime cartoon in which characters run with their torso tilted forward and their arms held back.)
— Sarah Fraser (@heyfrase) September 20, 2019
One concertgoer won Twitter users’ hearts by demonstrating the Naruto run during a reporter’s live TV hit on Thursday.
— Josh K. Elliott (@joshkelliott) September 20, 2019
The move left many people shocked and impressed.
“Say what you will about the people who showed up for the #Area51storm,” user Matt G. Metcalf wrote. “They at least know how to ‘Naruto run.'”
— Ru. (@rurusantos08_) September 20, 2019
Others showed off their Naruto-running poses outside the Area 51 gates at 3 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 20 — the original moment of the planned attack.
Authorities said the “raid” was largely peaceful and harmless. One woman was arrested for ducking under one of the Area 51 gates, but she was later released, Reuters reports.
“They’re just here to see what’s going on,” said Sergeant Orlando Guerra of the Nevada Department of Public Safety Investigation Division.
“They’re here to have fun,” he told Reuters.
Visitor Jason Strand, 23, said he and his friends travelled to the site from Utah to witness the absurdity in person.
“We came out here to see the dumb people make a run for it,” he told Reuters.
Local hotel owner Connie West said she’s relieved to see people showing up for Alienstock, which she is now running herself. She told a local news station earlier this week that she mortgaged her home to pay for the concert’s infrastructure.
“I’m relieved it’s here,” she told Reuters. “It’s happening. There’s no stopping it.”
The raid’s original creator, Matty Roberts, abandoned Alienstock last week amid fears that it would be a disaster. He held his own alien-themed celebration in Las Vegas on Thursday night.
Alien enthusiasts also gathered at the Alien Research Center in Hiko, Nev., on Thursday to stage a “raid” at the Area 51 perimeter. Video captured from the scene shows a few young men hopping over a foot-high fence, then hopping back.
A pair of attendees from L.A. “storming” the mock Area 51 gate at the Alien Research Center in Hiko. Something that will be a popular occurrence this weekend. #basecamp #area51 #stormarea51 pic.twitter.com/0Qs7EnZsag
— Mick Akers (@mickakers) September 19, 2019
Matty Roberts marvelled at the success of his viral internet joke on Thursday, ahead of his own version of Alienstock in Vegas.
“Everything has finally come together and come to this one moment, and it’s amazing,” he told KTNV.
“Who could have predicted this?” he said. “You make a post at 2 a.m. on a page that has 62 likes, and now you have thousands of people ready to come out to your show?”
Roberts added that he doesn’t plan to attend the concert in Rachel. He wished everyone there the best of luck, but he has other plans in mind for Friday.
“Dude, I’m taking a real long nap and eating a ton of chicken nuggets,” he said. “That’s the whole plan.”
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