A joking Facebook page asking people to storm the top-secret military base, Area 51, 150 miles north of Las Vegas, has become serious business.
Though the page is clearly meant to be tongue in cheek, more than 1.3 million people have said they’ll take part.
If even a small fraction of that number shows up in Rachel, Nevada - the tiny town outside the top-secret military base - business owners there say it will provide a big economic boost.
But what will the U.S. military do if someone actually DOES cross the line?
Connie West says it wouldn't be wise for anyone to try doing that.
“I think it’s stupid. I think they’re going to find themselves in a lot of trouble. They’re going to have to deal with that for the rest of their lives. C’mon! It’s a federal trespass.”
West is owner and operator of the Little A'Le'Inn restaurant in Rachel, the town of 56 people outside Area 51.
At the same time, West welcomes even a small percent of the 1.3 million people who signed onto the Facebook page entitled, “Storm Area 51-They Can't Stop All Of Us".
“Bring it!” she told KNPR's State of Nevada, “It will be an experience. We’ll figure out how to deal with it or we won’t.”
West said she has been getting constant calls about the event. In fact, she's taken the phone off the hook during busy times at the restaurant because she can't answer questions about the event and take care of customers.
She will be opening up 30 acres of her property for camping and she might add some specific merchandise for the event. But she will not be adding more stock to the restaurant because she likes the idea of selling out of everything for the first time in 32 years.
Another Rachel business owner who plans to capitalize on wanna-be Area 51 raiders on September 20 is George Harris.
Harris is a Las Vegas businessman—he’s owned Mundo and Mingo restaurants in downtown Las Vegas—he also ran for mayor one year.
On September 20, he says he is hiring bands to play, will lay down an acre of fake grass and will play movies related to UFOs and aliens on a large movie screen.
Harris hopes the event turns into an annual festival. He even has a name for it: The Swarm.
“If they’ve got 1.2 million people at a minimum at the bare, bare, bare minimum at least 2,500 people will show up to do it and if it’s really crazy then we might have 25,000 people show up,” he said.
However, Harris did have to point out that "the government is not dumb."
He said the military will be watching the chatter on social media about the event to determine whether it will actually materialize.
If it does suspect people will show, he believes it will send a division of Marines, members of the Air Force and Special Forces to the base.
Besides the military response, Harris noted that the geography of the area is not as simple as most people realize. He said from the back gate to the guard shack is more than three miles, then from the guard shack to the base of the dry lake is 28 miles, from the lake a person must go six miles and take a sharp left and travel another nine and a half miles before they get to the base.
So "storming" it would be extremely difficult, especially since he expects the Air Force to simply block the road leading to the back gate.
Harris attributes the storming idea to a larger undercurrent in America right now.
“I think it’s an underbelly anger and concern that American citizens have about the government not being honest with them about what they’re doing,” he said.
As for Harris, he does believe there are aliens at Area 51, although he is not sure whether they are alive or dead. And he is sure there is spacecraft that was moved there after the crash in Roswell, New Mexico in the 40s.
We also reached the originator of the Facebook post. As of Wednesday morning, 1.4 million people had signed up saying they would take part; more than a million more said they were "interested" in doing so.
Through email, this person said he or she is from Southern California. They didn’t give out much more than that, but added, quote: “I'll talk about everything to do with the joke, from the creation, responses to it and plans going forward to keep people from actually trying to force their way into a military base.”
After that, however, the person did not respond to attempts to record an interview with State of Nevada.
And what would actually happen if people tried to run onto this military property? A public information officer at Nellis Air Force Base, who did not want her name used, read a statement that ended, "any attempt to illegally access the area is highly discouraged."
Connie West, co-owner, Little A'Le'Inn restaurant; George Harris, owner, Alien Research Center; Spokeswoman, Nellis Air Force Base
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