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Area 51 ‘raid’ evolves into festival, sends small towns into a panic

Little green men are the least of the locals’ concerns.

The folklore surrounding Groom Lake, Nevada is unlike anything else in American pop culture.

Deep in the desert, miles upon miles from the nearest gas station, hotel, or paved road, sits Area 51 – a secret military installation that has been said to house everything from the wreckage of flying saucers, to zero-energy reactors, and even the bodies of deceased extraterrestrials discovered in Roswell, New Mexico back in 1947.

None of this has been verified, mind you, as the longstanding secret air base was only officially recognized by the US government in 2013.

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The intense curiosity that our nation has about Area 51 piqued once again just weeks ago as a Facebook event titled “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop Us All” went viral.  When it was all said and done, the gathering, set for September 20th, attracted more than 2 million RSVP’s on the social media platform.

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Now, as the event has been removed from Facebook, a slew of gatherings are still being planned for the area, but given the extraordinarily remote nature of Area 51, this is proving to be troublesome.

Fearing they could be overwhelmed with visitors, officials in the remote Nevada county that’s home to the Area 51 military base have drafted an emergency declaration and a plan to team resources with neighboring counties and the state ahead of events next month tied to the “Storm Area 51” internet drive.

The elected board governing the county with about 5,200 residents conditionally approved two events Monday for tiny desert towns near the once top-secret U.S. Air Force test area known in popular lore as a site for government studies of outer space aliens.

“Oh, we’re taking this seriously,” Lincoln County Commission Chairman Varlin Higbee told the Las Vegas Review-Journal . “With the possibility of 35,000 to 40,000 people showing up, yeah, this is serious.”

County officials are concerned that a surge of visitors will crowd campsites, gas stations and public medical, internet and cellphone services. Officials count just 184 hotel rooms in the county nearly twice the size of the Connecticut.

“The cellphone system is going to go down,” Higbee said. “You get more than a couple of hundred people there, and it’s going to crash. Cell service won’t be available.”

Some are hoping to cash in on the chaos, however.

The Little A’Le’Inn in the community of Rachel, population about 50, is scheduling a three-day music festival Sept. 20-22 dubbed Alienstock. Hotel co-owner Connie West has said she’s expecting 10,000 people.

The Alien Research Center souvenir shop in Hiko, a town of about 120 a 45-minute drive from Rachel, plans a Sept. 20-21 exposition.

While there is no guarantee that any evidence of visitors from across the solar system will be revealed during the busy weekend, that may be a blessing; it seems as though Area 51’s locals will have plenty of guests to host anyhow.

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