Area 51 events mostly peaceful; thousands in Nevada desert

HIKO, Nevada (AP) – Events involving thousands of Earthlings answering an Internet buzz about an invitation to “Storm Area 51” in the Nevada desert have been mostly festive, with crowds numbering in the low thousands and few arrests, officials said.

Three more people were arrested on Friday on the remote once-secret military base, Lincoln County Sheriff Kerry Lee said, bringing to five the tally since Thursday of accused trespassers during “Alienstock” and “Area 51 Basecamp” events and festivals in the tiny desert towns of Rachel and Hiko.

Several minor injuries were reported, and one man was treated for dehydration by festival medics in Rachel before returning to the party.

While costumed space aliens were a common, dayglow, and sometimes hilarious sight, no one reported seeing actual extraterrestrials or UFOs.

“There’s a great sense of community among everyone here,” said John Derryberry, who drove with his girlfriend, Sarah Shore, from Nashville, Tennessee.

“It started as a joke and now people are getting to know each other,” said Tracy Ferguson, 23, of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He said the Internet gave him the idea to drive to Nevada with his girlfriend, Jade Gore, 19, of Worthington, Minnesota.

Lee said a man reported missing on Friday morning after heading from a festival campground in Hiko toward an Area 51 gate was found safe by the evening. Details weren’t immediately made public, but his disappearance was not believed to have been an abduction.

Almost 100 people went at 3am on Friday to the best-known “back gate” of the legendary former top-secret United States (US) Air Force base, near the tiny town of Rachel, and another 40 made a more difficult trek to a lesser-known gate in Tikaboo Valley, Lee said.

About 300 went to the Tikaboo gate during daylight, and another 800 people made the dusty eight-mile drive to the Rachel gate during the day, Lee said. One, a woman in her 60s from California, was arrested after making it clear to sheriff’s deputies, her husband and everyone around her that she was going to trespass no matter what. “It was just something she wanted to do,” said the sheriff, who was at the Rachel gate at the time.