Laura Rauch / AP
Imagine a crowd that has never gathered in a Nevada desert town before dawn in mid-September to storm the entrance to Area 51 in search of aliens.
It's a fantastic idea that's meant to be a joke on social media, but its popularity has spread quickly. On Monday, the number of people who signed up for the permissive Facebook call on "Storm Area 51" exceeded 1 million.
And now US military officials are monitoring the situation.
"The US Air Force is aware of the Facebook event that encourages people to" Storm Area 51, "said an Air Force spokesman for NPR.
"The Nevada Test and Training Range provides a flexible, realistic and multi-dimensional battlefield for testing and developing tactics, as well as providing training to support US national interests," said the official, using the full name of a site, the Area contains 51. "Any attempt to illegally access the area is strongly discouraged."
According to the event page, the group "naruto" is supposed to run to the facility so they can "move faster than their balls", the event notes. "Let's see her aliens."
The Sprint style is an indication of Naruto Uzumaki, a Japanese anime character who runs with his chest pointing forward and his arms protruding backwards.
The event has everything that makes for a ridiculous internet joke, right?
"Yeah, it sounds like a joke, but apparently there are some people who want to watch the joke," Connie West, co-owner of The Little A & # 39; Le & # 39; Inn (pronounced "little alien") NPR told.
West's guest house in Alamo, Nevada, is the closest accommodation to Area 51. "About 42 km from the runway," she says.
Since the start of the Facebook event her phone is ringing continuously while searching for a room book. Her 10 rooms are now full for the event day, September 20, and she said most people who made reservations would have asked for the Area 51 congregation.
West also has about 30 acres of land, which allows campers to book for $ 15 a night. And so far, around 60 people have committed to setting up a tent on the day they've never experienced on a day that has not been linked to an organized event such as a desert marathon or cycle race near their inn ,
"Obviously people are taking it seriously," said West. "I think they're stupid when they think they're coming to the proving ground, but I'll take advantage of it."
For them, this means stopping by the inn's souvenir shop and buying t-shirts, bumper stickers, coffee mugs, and key fobs, which of course contain an allusion to the obvious.
"All with Aliens and / or Area 51," said West.
The top secret base is not open to the public Although it has become a destination for tourists, foreign-themed outfits such as the West are not uncommon. Nevada has even renamed a state highway in "The Extraterrestrial Highway," as there are reports of UFO activity along the road.
Conspiracy theorists have been obsessed with Area 51 for decades, claiming that the government hid aliens and crashed UFOs on the site. In 2013, the CIA published a classified report from 1992, in which the Federal Government acknowledges that espionage aircraft were tested there. The officials also admitted that Area 51 is where science fiction stories were based, and that it's a real government facility.
In May, the New York Times reported that naval officials secretly described "unexplained aerial phenomena or unidentified flying objects" and set up new theories about hiding extraterrestrial life in Area 51.
It's hard to say How many of the million supporters of the event know it's a joke, and how many really think about going on a hike to Nevada, but most of the thousands of posts on the page seem like that to suggest that it is not meant seriously.
"We forget something very important," wrote Nick Prafke. "We need Vape Lords to create a smoke screen that fades out satellite and camera images."
The person behind the page that created the event is a 20-year-old California man who would only be identified as "Val." He would not call a surname for fear that advertising in connection with the event would bother him.
"I just thought it would be a funny idea for the meme site," Val said via Facebook Messenger. "And it just started like wildfire." However, it's completely satirical and most people seem to understand that.
Val told NPR that he "will most likely be there, but not for its intended purpose. "
He talked" with some great people "about planning another kind of shindig, maybe something instructive, though it was unclear what the lesson would be.
sprint through the desert at 3am, "he said.