Editorial: Gender reveal party tragedies mount – they must stop

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Gender reveal parties have come a long way from releasing pink or blue balloons and frosting cupcakes. They’ve escalated to using smoke bombs and pyrotechnics to announce the “big reveal,” resulting in injuries, wildfires and death.

They need to stop.

On Sunday, a gender reveal party in Mexico featured a pilot releasing pink smoke from his plane. According to a video posted online, the plane’s left wing appeared to separate from the fuselage as it flew away from the group of people below.

The plane crashed, and according to reports, the pilot died after being taken to a hospital.

This wasn’t the only tragedy to stem from a gender reveal.

A Southern California couple set off a smoke bomb at their Sept. 5, 2020 gender reveal. It sparked the El Dorado wildfire that burned more than 22,000 acres. One firefighter was killed battling the flames and two others were injured, according to reports.

The Sawmill Fire of 2017 was caused by a father-to-be detonating a target packed with Tannerite in a desert near Green Valley, Arizona. That sparked a blaze that lasted more than a week, burned 46,991 acres and cost over $8 million to contain and extinguish.

Blowing things up is a theme at these parties. In 2021, a gender reveal in Kingston, New Hampshire used  80 pounds of explosives to announce the big news. The resulting explosion damaged nearby homes and was felt in northern Massachusetts.

Neighbor Sara Taglieri told a New York ABC affiliate “I’m not upset because I have chalk or confetti blowing my way. I mean, it was an explosion that rocked my house, my neighbor’s, my community and town. It was just absolutely over-the-top ridiculous.”

Over-the-top ridiculous is the name of the game in our Instagram age. A simple cake and streamers won’t get the views that say, a plume of pink smoke wafting over cheering guests will. A party celebrating a yet-to-be-born baby and explosives are a perfect match – if you view this as a chance to star in your own reality show, captured on gender reveal Insta reels.

Unfortunately, far too many people do, and the ante for the outrageous keeps getting upped. What were once simple family celebrations are now full-scale extravaganzas, camera-ready, and choreographed to wow followers.

Blogger Jenna Karvunidis is credited with being the “inventor” of the gender reveal party. Her 2008 party for her unborn daughter featured Karvunidis cutting into a cake with pink frosting on the inside. As ta-da moments go, it was nothing like the literally explosive festivities we have today.

And that’s one of the reasons Karvunidis is denouncing them. “Stop it. Stop having these stupid parties,” she wrote on Facebook as the El Dorado Wildfire raged. “For the love of God, stop burning things down to tell everyone about your kid’s penis. No one cares but you.”

Unfortunately, no one listened, and another life has been lost.

Hopefully, if anything good is to come out of Sunday’s tragedy, it is that expectant couples rethink the “hey look at us” aspect of celebrating their unborn child, and instead revel in the joy of their growing family.


Editorial cartoon by Steve Breen (Creators Syndicate)
Editorial cartoon by Steve Breen (Creators Syndicate)

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