The gathering took place outside the Area 51 Alien Center in Amargosa Valley at approximately 3 a.m., near the small towns of Rachel and Hiko after the Facebook hoax took the internet by storm in June.
The post invited people to storm the once-secret military installation, the focus of popular lore about government studies of extraterrestrial life and aliens, according to ABC News.
Everything began with a joke that went viral over the internet. Only three days after creating the page, Matty Roberts, the founder of the Facebook page named Storm Area 51: They Can’t Stop All Of Us, saw over 2 million RSVPs and another 1.2 million “interested” users for the the event.
“They can’t stop all of us,” the original Facebook post jested. “Let’s see them aliens.”
But on the scheduled day of the event, Sept. 20, only 1,500 people showed up. According to The Associated Press, 150 people traveled within sight of the Area 51 gates and around 75 actually approached the gates on Friday morning.
Forbes reported that so far, two individuals had been detained by the local sheriff’s deputies, and the reasons for their detainment are still unknown.
One woman allegedly attempted to duck under the gates and a man was allegedly urinating in public, Forbes reported.
According to ABC News, Nevada authorities said that approximately 40 people spent the night at Area 51 with plans to storm the gates before departing peacefully.
Authorities said some of the people approached the gates before they were met with “heated warnings” from officers and left, ABC News reports.
Despite it being intended as a joke, the Facebook group expanded so fast that the U.S. Air Force (USAF) felt compelled to issue an ominous warning to anyone who actually thought of storming Area 51, according to a Newsweek report.
“[Area 51] is an open training range for the U.S. Air Force, and we would discourage anyone from trying to come into the area where we train American armed forces,” The warning read. “The U.S. Air Force always stands ready to protect America and its assets,” USAF spokeswoman Laura McAndrews told The Washington Post in July.
“People desire to be part of something, to be ahead of the curve,” Michael Ian Borer, a University of Nevada, Las Vegas, sociologist who researches pop culture and paranormal activity said. “Area 51 is a place where normal, ordinary citizens can’t go. When you tell people they can’t do something, they must want to do it more,” Borer said in an interview with ABC News.
Although the original Facebook page has been taken down by administrators, marketers have seized the opportunity and promoted alien-themed products for the Storm Area 51 event. Arby’s made the extraterrestrial-themed “Galaxy Milkshake” a reality and Bud Light promised—and delivered—limited edition alien beers.