Storming Area 51 started as a joke. But it’s a mystery as to how many will show up

LAS VEGAS — It was supposed to be a fun joke. Create an event on Facebook that was so absurd, everyone would have a laugh, share a meme and then move on with their lives.

Instead, Matty Roberts got a visit from the FBI, the Air Force has warned it is ready for anything and rural Lincoln County, Nev., is preparing to declare a state of emergency.

In late June, Roberts, a 20-year-old from Bakersfield, posted his Facebook event: “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us.”

The idea was simple. Overwhelm the top-secret Nevada military site with people — a mass of humanity that would storm the gates in pursuit of long-hidden truths that have long fueled conspiracy theories and television shows including “The X-Files.”

It would all happen on Sept. 20. Finally, alien autopsies, UFOs in hangars and other off-the-books government research would be exposed. Vindication, Mulder and Scully!

The post got little attention at first, but a few days later it started to go viral, and by mid-July more than 1 million people said on Facebook they were planning to attend.