The Latest: 1 arrest, 1 detained at alien festival in desert
HIKO, Nev. – The Latest on “Storm Area 51” events in two tiny Nevada towns near the once-secret military research site (all times local):
Authorities say one person was arrested on a charge of public urination and another was detained early Friday at a gate to Area 51 on Friday.
A group of about 75 people gathered near the site after an internet hoax posted in June invited people to “storm” the once-secret military installation. The place is the focus of popular lore about government studies of extraterrestrial life and space aliens.
The “Storm Area 51” invitation spawned festivals in the tiny Nevada towns of Rachel and Hiko nearest the military site, and a more than two-hour drive from Las Vegas.
Sheriff Kerry Lee did not immediately provide details on the arrest or why the other person was detained. A press briefing was scheduled later Friday morning.
At least two people were detained by local sheriff’s deputies at a gate to Area 51 in Nevada after an estimated 75 people gathered at the site early Friday.
A weekend gathering is happening in the desert after an internet hoax posted in June invited people to “storm” the once-secret military installation. The place is the focus of popular lore about government studies of extraterrestrial life and space aliens.
It wasn’t immediately clear if a woman who began ducking under al gate and a man who urinated nearby were arrested after the crowd gathered about 3 a.m.
An Associated Press photographer saw both escorted away by deputies. A sheriff’s dispatcher declined to comment.
Sheriff Kerry Lee was scheduled to speak to the media later in the morning.
Sound checks echoed from a distant main stage as Daniel Martinez whirled and danced at dusty makeshift festival grounds in Rachel, the Nevada town closest to the once-secret Area 51 military base.
His muse was the thumping beat from a satellite setup that pumped a techno beat into the chilly desert night Thursday.
The music kicked off events that officials say have drawn around 1,500 people to two tiny desert towns. Events are scheduled until Sunday.
The 31-year-old collectible cards seller said he drove more than six hours from Pomona, California, to catch an event inspired by an internet hoax calling people to “Storm Area 51.”
Martinez said he knew the post was a joke, but he also knew people would show up.
He called it “a contagion, but in a good way. With positivity.”
Military jets roared overhead in the blue Nevada sky as Rusty Satterwhite, from Twin Falls, Idaho, chatted with his new camping neighbour, Chuck Bench of White City, Oregon.
Bench, a 72-year-old Vietnam War-era U.S. Air Force veteran, said he came to the “Alienstock” event in Rachel to find meaning in life.
Maybe it’s over those hills, laughed Satterwhite, a 45-year-old automation engineer.
The two found free space easy to find on federal Bureau of Land Management property across state Highway 375 from the Little A’Le’Inn – and within sight of a makeshift stage being set up for music to begin after dark.
Neither man said he had any intention of running toward any gate to the once-secret Area 51 military base somewhere over the picturesque mountains.
After hearing that the Federal Aviation Administration closed airspace in the area, Satterwhite said he’d keep his remote-controlled drone aircraft on the ground.
He also brought his GoPro camera, he said.
Michael Creber was waving traffic ahead on a driveway from Nevada’s Extraterrestrial Highway in front of the Little A’Le’Inn motel and cafe in tiny Rachel.
If a spaceship arrives, he said, he was hoping he’d be asked to drive.
The 53-year-old from Bend, Oregon, said he was drawn to volunteer at the “Alienstock” festival hosted by motel owner Connie West for people responding to an internet hoax about the once-secret Area 51 military base.
“It’d be nice if a UFO shows up,” Creber said in a nod to popular legend that in addition to U.S. Air Force testing, Area 51 houses government studies of space aliens. “But I’m not holding my breath.”
As of Thursday afternoon, the hundreds of visitors arriving in the tiny towns of Rachel and Hiko (HI’-koh) about a two-hour drive into the Nevada desert from Las Vegas were Earthlings, not extraterrestrials.