The massive El Dorado wildfire in the U.S. state of California was reportedly started by a reveal party, a growing trend in the United States in which couples come up with increasingly elaborate ways to announce the gender of their expected child.
For some couples, the revelation of the baby's gender has become an important milestone, like a baby shower. But some are saying reveal parties have gotten out of control, as couples vie for the most dramatic reveal and the accompanying social media attention.
Jenna Karvunidis, whom the media call the inventor of the reveal party, says social media influencer clout and the money that can generate is pushing couples to extremes.
"The problem is that it's monetary," she told the Daily Beast. "The platforms are rewarding this more extravagant content because that's how you get the sponsorship opportunities. … And so, they have to up the ante with more and more spectacles."
It's not clear if Karvunidis is, in fact, the inventor of the gender reveal party, but her 2008 post to social media helped cause the trend to go viral.
Her idea was simple by today's standards: Invite a few friends and family members over, bake a modest cake with pink icing in the center to indicate the unborn baby is a girl and post some photos on a blog.
Karvunidis told the Daily Beast that her reveal party wasn't to get attention from strangers but rather to celebrate a healthy pregnancy and get her estranged mother excited.
Cakes no longer seem to cut it.
One expecting couple hollowed out a watermelon, filled it with blue jello and then had an alligator chomp on it to reveal the gender.
Another couple hired a small plane to dump small colored balls on attendees.
Another aviation-themed reveal caused a plane crash when a small aircraft that was supposed to dump 1,300 liters of pink water flew too low and crashed. Luckily, no one was injured.
Some are jumping out of planes to add to the drama. In one case, a man parachuted from a plane toward event guests with a smoke canister emitting colored smoke to reveal the gender.
Yet another couple built a complex Rube Goldberg machine to reveal the gender of their coming baby.
Some of the events have produced painful viral video, including a recent video of a Massachusetts man accidentally firing an explosive canister of blue smoke directly into his crotch.
Flare hits dad-to-be in the crotch at a gender reveal party pic.twitter.com/tpkpNN9qOd— The Sun (@TheSun) September 13, 2020
But now, the parties may be causing massive damage like the El Dorado fire, which started east of Los Angeles and has burned around 5,600 hectares so far.
A massive 2018 fire in Arizona is also blamed on a gender reveal event gone wrong.
It's unclear if the fires will cause a pause to the gender reveal trend, but a quick online search reveals numerous resources for parents wanting to plan their event, and it's likely most parties don't involve gators, planes or explosive devices.
There are also signs the trend is going global with a couple recently lighting up the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, in blue to announce they were expecting a boy.
Karvunidis, however, says she has had enough.
"Stop it. Stop having these stupid parties," she wrote on Facebook.