Explosions, arrests, disasters: Why are gender reveal parties so dangerous?

·5-min read

Watch: Gender reveal explosion rocks New Hampshire towns

US Police have discovered the source of a huge explosion that rocked several towns and triggered reports of an earthquake. It was actually a gender reveal party, prompting concerns that the recent trend has gone way too far.

After receiving reports of a loud explosion earlier this week, police responded to Torromeo quarry, New Hampshire, where they found a family holding a gender reveal party with explosives.

The source of the blast was 80 pounds (36 kilograms) of Tannerite, with the family admitting to having believed the quarry would be the safest spot to light the explosive.

Though no injuries were reported, and the unidentified person who bought and detonated the explosives has turned himself in to police, the entire episode is yet another example that gender reveals are getting a little out of hand.

In recent years, the trend has grown from the simple cutting of a pink or blue cake, with parents-to-be now utilising anything from a lasagne (yes, really) to ‘Game of Thrones’ dragon eggs to reveal the sex of their unborn babies.

But the quest for bigger and more impressive reveals doesn't always go according to plan, and in some cases can actually be tragic.

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When did gender reveals turn from cake cutting to causing earthquakes? (Getty Images)
When did gender reveals turn from cake cutting to causing earthquakes? (Getty Images)

Further cases of gender reveals gone horribly wrong include the fatal crashing of a small plane announcing the gender of a baby in Mexico earlier this year, which killed two people.

It wasn't even the first time that a small plane being used for a gender reveal has crashed. Back in 2019, in Texas, a plane that dropped 350 gallons of pink water for a gender reveal stalled and crashed upside down into a field. The pilot was thankfully unharmed, but a passenger was injured.

And it certainly wasn't the only dangerous gender reveal stunt. In February, a 28-year-old New York man was building a device for his child’s gender reveal party when it exploded, tragically killing him and injuring his brother.

Meanwhile, in 2020, the El Dorado wildfire, which scorched more than 7,000 acres in California, was believed to have been started by a faulty smoke machine at a gender reveal party.

Similarly, in 2018 in Arizona, a gender reveal party ignited the Sawmill Fire, which burned 45,000 acres.

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Have gender reveals gone too far? (Getty Images)
Have gender reveals gone too far? (Getty Images)

Closer to home, a dad-to-be was recently left rolling on the floor in agony after he accidentally fired the confetti cannon for his gender reveal party straight into his crotch.

Gemma Bayliffe Newby, from Manchester, filmed her husband Oliver and their young daughter as they excitedly announced the sex of their second child.

In a video recorded by the mum-to-be and shared on YouTube, her husband is seen struggling with the party canon containing blue confetti before blasting it between his legs, prompting him to double over with pain.

Watch: Foster parents hold epic gender reveal for their 12-year-old daughter.

The various dangerous stunts in gender reveal events have even led to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission sharing a public service announcement on Twitter urging parents-to-be to “choose cake” instead of “improvised explosive devices.”

“Don’t turn a party into a family tragedy," the tweet said. "Get a cake. Leave fireworks, smoke bombs, or other explosive devices to the professionals".

Even the woman credited with kick-starting gender reveal parties has shared some regrets about the way the trend has gone.

In July 2008, Jenna Karvunidis baked a cake with pink icing inside to reveal the gender of her unborn daughter, not realising that the concept would catch on and become a custom celebrated by parents around the world.

“I've felt a lot of mixed feelings about my random contribution to the culture,” Karvunidis wrote.

“It just exploded into crazy after that. Literally - guns firing, forest fires, more emphasis on gender than has ever been necessary for a baby.”

And now the mum feels differently about the whole concept.

“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 that have nothing to do with what's between their legs.”

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Gender reveals have become hugely popular in recent years. (Getty Images)
Gender reveals have become hugely popular in recent years. (Getty Images)

But despite some gender reveals undoubtedly taking things too far, it doesn't mean all celebrations to discover the sex of a baby should be cancelled.

“Whether you want to tell the whole world or just your friends and family, a gender reveal should be an uplifting moment to share news about the exciting addition to your family," Cathy Ranson, editor at ChannelMum tells Yahoo UK.

“While it’s great to do this in a truly personal way, it shouldn’t be about showing off or one-upmanship. Bigger doesn’t always mean better.

“There has been a trend on social media for gender reveals to become ever-more extravagant, but a decisive 87% of mums now feel these types of display are over the top and out of step with the times.

“Post-pandemic, when so many people are struggling mentally or have money worries, some of the most emotional and meaningful gender reveals are also the most simple.

"Perhaps we should remember that what truly matters is the baby – not how much money you spent or how big your fireworks or pink or blue-coloured cakes were."