Austin Ashizawa | Student Life Editor
November 5, 2021
Fire. Death. Destruction. What do these atrocities all share in common? Gender reveal parties. Ranging from quaint pink and blue puffs of smoke to towering fires that devastated the state of California, this trend has seen it all. But where did it originate, and after so many infamous disasters, where does it now stand?
Many sources seem to point out the first incarnations of the trend stemming from blogger (and now mother) Jenna Karvunidis in 2008. Desiring to make the announcement of her unborn daughter a bit more exciting, she devised a creative concept: a cake containing pink icing on the inside to be revealed when a person finally carved out a slice. After her family and friends expressed their thorough enjoyment of the event, Karvunidis created a blog post describing the thrill behind this miniature celebration. “Life is hard, but I like to have fun,” Karvunidis said. “I think it’s important to mark moments of joy.”
For a while, these events remained innocent and tame. “People used to host gender reveal parties to function as a special time to come together and celebrate the life of a new child,” senior Max Banks said.
But like all good things, the blissful moments soon came to an end. As people began to rapidly replicate the celebrations, it became more and more distorted, like a sinister game of telephone. Instead of slicing cakes, people began thrusting watermelons into the gaping mouth of an alligator (yes, that happened). And instead of doing it for simple enjoyment, many new parents began to use the opportunity for more gifts, fame, and money. The stakes rose as people continually tried to best each other, leading to a plethora of disasters.
At a gender reveal in Turkey, Texas during 2019, a passenger in a pilot’s crop duster received minor injuries when the plane stalled out and crashed. According to investigators, the plane had dumped over 350 gallons of pink water when it dipped too close to the land, prompting the crash.
On another occasion, a woman was killed after being struck in the head by a piece of metal. The shrapnel resulted from an explosion after a member of the woman’s family inadvertently created a pipe bomb in preparation for the party.
“It still scares me how far people go for something that could just be told to their family members with words,” junior Ramtin Shams said. “Instead of calling them over the phone or meeting them in person for a small party, these people create chaos with dumb ideas.”
But if the most infamous example was to be pinpointed, look no further than the El Dorado Fire. The wildfire started on September 5, 2020 when a Californian family decided to incorporate a smoke-generating pyrotechnic device into their gender reveal party, an absolutely brilliant idea because the state is as dry as a desert. Naturally, one little spark was all it took to ravage the entire northernmost portion of the Golden State, resulting in numerous injuries, including the death of a veteran firefighter, and destroying approximately 22,000 acres of land.
“I remember seeing footage on the news where the sky was completely blacked out by thick clouds of smoke,” Shams said. “When the inferno was eventually brought under control and the couple responsible for the act was brought into court, they pleaded not guilty on the account of involuntary manslaughter.”
Disappointingly, such a tragic event still wasn’t enough to provide an end to the absolute idiocracy behind gender reveal parties. Just this past October, a couple in Dubai used a real tiger to burst a black balloon and reveal the sex of their baby. With a social media post about the event sparking controversy, many people took to the comments to attack the original posters about the potential endangerment of onlookers and the likely mistreatment of the animal. Yet amidst all this backlash, there is likely to be one ingenious couple that decides that they want to have a gender party too, one that is even more exciting than using a dangerous animal. And thus, the cycle continues.
So what are we to do about these stupendous ideas? The trend is likely to die out within a few years, but that still opens up the doors to even more destruction and chaos than has already been seen. If anything, legislation may be needed to permanently put a cap on some of the more insane practices. “Many of the things that people do to reveal a baby’s sex is extremely over the top,” Banks said. “For one, explosives and pyrotechnics need to be off the table.”
But if you are truly intent on hosting a gender reveal party, there is no harm in doing so safely. They have garnered an overly negative reputation over the years (and rightfully so), but if we look back at the very first one hosted by Jenna Karvunidis, it was a source of fun for the family that resulted in zero maulings or decapitations. “If done correctly, these events can be amazing,” Banks said. “They bring together families and celebrate the life of a newborn.” But as for the current trend of these events, it seems we will have to cautiously sit and wait as the psychotics get their share of the craze.