The woman credited with making gender-reveal parties popular has a request after a major California wildfire was ignited during one such event over the weekend: “Stop having these stupid parties.”
On Saturday morning, a smoke-generating pyrotechnic device at a gender reveal party sparked the El Dorado Fire east of Los Angeles, which has since burned more than 9,670 acres and forced thousands of people to evacuate. It remained only 7% contained on Monday evening amid extreme weather conditions.
The device would typically generate blue or pink smoke to indicate the gender of an expected baby, a formula that the numerous iterations of these parties follow. (It’s not yet clear what colour it was in this instance).
“Stop it. Stop having these stupid parties. For the love of God, stop burning things down to tell everyone about your kid’s penis,” Jenna Karvunidis wrote on Facebook on Monday. “No one cares but you.”
Karvunidis threw what’s now known as a gender reveal party in 2008, she told HuffPost in a phone interview. She didn’t call it that at the time, though. She simply threw a party where she and her family discovered that she was going to have a baby girl by cutting into a cake that contained pink icing.
“I was just trying to get my family more involved and excited as my sister-in-law just had a baby,” she said.
After posting about it on her blog, High Gloss and Sauce, the idea was picked up by a local magazine called The Bump. Karvunidis said in the following years, she noticed the events became more prevalent.
Last year, after a Twitter user described Karvunidis as the “inventor” of the gender-reveal party, she told NPR that her views on gender had changed.
“Who cares what gender the baby is? I did at the time because we didn’t live in 2019 and didn’t know what we know now ― that assigning focus on gender at birth leaves out so much of their potential and talents,” she wrote on Facebook at the time.
Karvunidis told HuffPost she began to find the concept problematic when her daughter became upset because she received what she perceived as a “boy’s toy” for Christmas (it wasn’t pink).
In more recent years, gender-reveal events have moved from simple balloon pops, confetti and cakes to more dramatic reveals ― sometimes with dangerous results.
In 2017, an Arizona man set off a massive 45,000-acre wildfire that left more than $8 (£6.1) million worth of damage after shooting at a target loaded with an explosive substance intended to burst pink or blue. And last year, a “burnout” gender-reveal stunt in Australia sent a car up in flames and the driver to court. Other headline-making events have included a live alligator, fireworks and coloured hair.
As Karvunidis spends her Monday evening on evacuation watch in her southern California home due to the Bobcat Fire ― a wildfire near Azusa located not far from the El Dorado blaze ― she said things have truly gone too far.