Though employees at the Area 51 Alien Center were prepared for large crowds related to the Storm Area 51 event, the turnout was much less than expected, considering the business along Highway 95 in Amargosa Valley is on the way to the remote location in Rachel, Nevada.
Interestingly, the organizer, Matty Roberts, recently decided to back out of the event.
Manager Tina Zamora said on Thursday, Sept. 19, that she has noticed just a slight uptick in foot traffic at the store.
“We stocked up on water more than anything else, and we’ve had a few people stop by to get gas and ask for directions,” she said. “I think the whole thing is pretty crazy, and I just hope people stick to the designated places that they’re supposed to go to and not try and get into Area 51.”
Store Supervisor John Davenport said he didn’t expect large crowds stopping in to secure gas and provisions in the days leading up to the event over the past weekend.
His assumption turned out to be accurate, as just a few hundred people descended upon the town of Rachel according to authorities.
“I think it’s going to be pretty much the same level of business that we normally see here. The traffic still looks about the same today as it is every summer, so I’m not expecting too much.”
As far as attending the event himself, Davenport said he had other plans.
“I won’t be going out there because I have to work,” he said. “Even if I didn’t have to work, I still wouldn’t go. I wouldn’t take my chances out there. I understand the military’s history, so I’m not going to try to invoke anything. They don’t play games.”
While shopping for souvenirs, inside the store, newlywed Nawal Price said she nor her husband had not even heard of the event.
“We are on our honeymoon, so we are doing a road trip,” she said. “We started from California and went through Las Vegas and now we’re in Amargosa Valley. We never heard about it, so it didn’t reach us, but now we know.”
Right next door to Area 51 Alien Center is Alamo Fireworks, where manager and Beatty resident Patrick James said he noticed a slight uptick in sales from people headed to the event.
“I think it’s because of the people stopping next door to get gas and other items,” he said. “We’ve seen about a 20 percent increase in business. I don’t think we’re going to get as many people as they initially thought. One guy started this whole thing, and he’s already backed out.”
Just across the street from the business, Nye County Sheriff’s Office Capt. David Boruchowitz was overseeing the sheriff’s office command post on Thursday, while noting there were no serious issues early that afternoon.
“Things are good so far, and we have a lot of resources out here just in case,” he noted. “We had no real incidents and everything is going pretty well for us. The last I heard, there was just a couple of hundred people up there in Rachel. We are good to go and are prepared for anything. At this point, there are a bunch of unknowns, but we are not taking any chances, obviously.”
Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter: @pvtimes