There has been a lot of hue and cry among netizens for over a month who were set to 'Storm Area 51' after a University student, Matty Roberts posted a Facebook joke event. But Roberts didn't predict that about 2 million people would show virtual interest for venturing into the highly secure US military area. The event eventually morphed into the Alienstock festival as more people grew interested. However, as per US media reports, it turns out that only 3,000 showed up on the set date.
The rural Nevada town of Rachel was turned upside down as they waited in anticipation. And just the night before the Alienstock festival, locals put up hand-painted templates writing "No Alienstock" to keep people away from the town.
Following this, locals lobbied county commissioners to close the highway to prevent the event from happening or at least block off the five residential roads. Earlier on September 3, the Lincoln County issued the final event permit. But later they had to declare states of emergency. Ultimately locals posted on Rachel's website asking people to not come to town.
As per earlier media reports, initially Roberts, Connie West (owner of an inn in Rachel collaborated to organize the event yet Roberts and his friends dropped out considering the risk of managing so many in such a small town of 50 people. Calling Rachel a small town is an understatement. The town is bereft of everything including gas stations, street lights, unreliable cell service and the only store and inn had gone out of service. Residents stay there with stocks of food and gas long away from the cities out of their own choice. A resident named Part Jordan said the media that he was earlier a pilot in Vegas. He chose to live in the town because he was tired of the city. This explains the difficulties involved in organizing an event which had the probability of being flocked my millions!
Still, a few thousand showed up with mobile vans camping around the town. As they were prohibited to enter the place, they instead took pictures with the guards and some ran like the Japanese manga character Naruto in the desert (following Robert's post). Media spotted some visitors who started earning their small share of fortune by selling tin hats foiled in the shape of the imaginary extraterrestrial species. There were others who came with alien costumes, goggles and what not to make the place look like a real Alien festival.
The expense for organizing the Alienstock was reportedly estimated to be $250,000 which was not a joke for a town with a shoestring budget. Eric Holt, Lincoln County Emergency manager, told the US media that the total bill for the county is $200,000 to bring in about 300 officers as well as the supplies to support them. The County commissioners are dipping into the Land Act Fund as well as an emergency fund to shore things up. Having declared a state of emergency earlier in the summer, Lincoln County is also hoping to get some of the money reimbursed by the state.
Similarly, Connie West the owner of the inn in Rachel said to media that she mortgaged her house to arrange for the mobile toilets and other arrangements for the festival. This was a big deal for a small town like Rachel. Yet the next day, the visitors started to clear up the place. The authorities were on to clear the dust and debris left from the camps. Whether next year, people will visit Rachel again still remains a question.