Many LGBT+ activists have criticized gender reveal parties for being outdated and stigmatizing. Now one has started a huge wildfire in California.
The El Dorado Fire at Oak Glen in San Bernardino County is still burning. So far it has scorched 9,671 acres – and counting.
Now authorities have confirmed that a ‘smoke generating pyrotechnic device’ at a gender reveal party in Yucaipa’s El Dorado Ranch Park started the blaze.
Parents have embraced the gender reveal party craze to celebrate unborn babies over the last decade.
The parties started by using blue or pink frosting on cakes to show if they were having a boy or girl. But one-upmanship soon saw families switch to more spectacular – and dangerous – methods.
In this case partygoers at the event released the pyrotechnic device at 10.23am on Saturday (5 September).
But it ignited a fire and tinder-dry conditions and record temperatures saw the blaze spread out of control. Indeed, California has seen an unprecedented heat wave with the mercury hitting 121F (49C) in the San Fernando Valley.
The family which set off the ‘smoke-generating’ device alerted authorities and stayed at the scene. They said the fire was unintentional.
However the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) warned they could still face prosecution.
In a statement Cal Fire ‘reminds the public that with the dry conditions and critical fire weather, it doesn’t take much to start a wildfire. Those responsible for starting fires due to negligence or illegal activity can be held financially and criminally responsible.’
The biggest gender reveal disasters
It’s not the first time a gender reveal party has ended in disaster – or even the worst.
In April 2017, US Border Patrol agent Dennis Dickey held a gender reveal party for his son. During it he shot a rifle at a target containing Tannerite, a highly explosive substance.
The idea was for it to reveal blue powder for a boy or pink for a girly. But it exploded. The resulting 47,000 acre fire in the Coronado National Forest in Arizona caused millions in damage. And Dickey found himself personally liable.
There has even been at least one death. In October 2019, an Iowa family inadvertently built a pipe bomb as part of their gender-reveal party and killed one female relative.
Around a month later, a plane stalled and crashed while crop-dusting a Texas field with 350 gallons of pink water for an unborn baby girl. Luckily, there were no fatalities.
But other families have put people at risk with gender reveal parties involving explosions and even an alligator.
Pink and blue, boys and girls – none of it is what you think
In fact, the gender reveal parties started much more simply.
In 2008, Jenna Karvunidis found out the biological sex of her baby, 20 weeks into her pregnancy. And she decided to make telling her relatives about it fun – by holding a party with a cake iced to show her baby’s gender.
She then wrote a blog about the party and a pregnancy magazine spotted it, starting the craze.
However, last year she told GSN she no longer agrees with the parties. She said her daughter now loves wearing suits and she has opened up her mind to the gender spectrum.
Meanwhile some LGBT+ campaigners say the parties are outdated and misunderstand gender. Moreover, many have particularly criticized toymakers for color-coding all girls’ toys pink or purple.
However perhaps the funniest fact about gender reveal parties is that parents may have been getting the colors wrong all this time.
As late as the 1920s, pink was the traditional color for boys. Meanwhile the Virgin Mary typically wore blue, so that was for girls.
In fact, until the mid-15th century, people referred to all children as ‘girls’. Boys were called ‘knave girls’ and girls were called ‘gay girls’. The word ‘boy’ originally meant ‘servant’.