Gender Reveal Explosions
(U.S. Forest Service via AP)
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Some people feel the need to make a big production out of announcing the sex of their impending bundle of joy with as much fanfare as possible. Many concoct elaborate ceremonies that don’t always work out so well.

As we’ve noted in the past, you can now buy Tannerite-like explosives that go boom in either pink or blue when you shoot them.

gender reveal explosion
Chris Heuss for TTAG

Just be careful, because one guy started a hell of a fire with one of these and it cost him an awful lot of money as a result.

Of course, it could always be worse . . .

By Grant Schulte, Associated Press

It was supposed to be a happy moment, a chance to declare the sex of a soon-to-be-born baby with a blast of color and burst of attention on social media.

But the gender reveal party explosion that killed an Iowa woman this weekend highlights the extreme lengths some families go to advertise on social media that they’re expecting a boy or a girl.

Gender reveal parties have grown increasingly popular and elaborate, with smoke, confetti or colored treats to symbolize the soon-to-be-born child’s biological sex. But what began as a lighthearted, intimate gathering with family and close friends has morphed into a spectacle with guns, explosives and wild animals to maximize shock value — with sometimes dangerous consequences.

“There’s this huge pressure to publicize these once-private moments,” said Carly Gieseler, an associate professor at the City University of New York’s York College, who has studied the rise of gender-reveal parties. “You get that outside validation that what you did was unique, that it was extra special. It drives celebrations to the extreme because you’re trying to do the thing that no one’s done before.”

Gieseler said the number of gender reveal parties has risen over the last decade but speculated that the recent string of accidents could cause it to decline.

The homemade explosive that killed 56-year-old Pamela Kreimeyer in Knoxville, Iowa, on Saturday was just the latest example. The device was meant to spray colorful powder into the air, but instead exploded like a pipe bomb. Kreimeyer, who was standing 45 feet away, died instantly when a piece of debris struck her head.

Two years ago, an off-duty Border Patrol agent accidentally started a 47,000-acre wildfire in southern Arizona when he shot a target filled with an explosive powder and blue coloring to signal that he was expecting a son. Agent Dennis Dickey was charged with a misdemeanor and sentenced to probation for triggering the fire, which caused more than $8 million in damage.

In Australia, a car that spewed blue smoke to announce the arrival of a boy burst into flames last year, forcing the driver and passengers to abandon it.

And in separate instances over the last two years, couples announced their child’s sex by putting items into the mouths of their pet alligators — a watermelon filled with blue Jell-O in Louisiana and a pink-powder-filled balloon in Florida.

The use of homemade explosives is particularly concerning to fire officials, who worry about one-upmanship and copycats.

“These explosives are very unpredictable,” said Ron Humphrey, a special agent in charge of the Iowa State Fire Marshal Division. “You can set 10 off and get 10 different results. If we can get any message across to people, it’s to tell them simply not to do it.”

Just one day after the deadly Knoxville explosion, authorities in nearby Waukee, Iowa, received multiple calls about a blast outside of town. No one was injured, but the shockwave from the commercially available “gender reveal kit” rattled homes as far as 2 miles away. Waukee Fire Department Captain Tomme Tysdal said one neighbor complained about broken windows.

Event planners say they’ve seen an increase in formal gender reveal parties in recent years. Most draw between 30 and 50 people, and some couples even rent event halls for their announcement, said Bonnie Rosa-Mosena, a Des Moines-area wedding and event planner.

“It’s not enough just to have grandma and grandpa there,” she said. “They want all of their friends. It’s a big party.”

Rosa-Mosena said one of her client couples used a confetti cannon for their gender reveal party, but guests stood far away when it was fired. Another client revealed the baby’s gender while skydiving with a blue aerial flare, signaling a boy.

Gender reveal parties have been a social media staple since 2008, when an expectant mother, Jenna Karvunidis, posted a blog item on a parenting website about a family barbeque where she had baked a cake with pink icing inside to reveal that she was having a daughter.

The story was picked up by The Bump, a pregnancy magazine, and placed in OB-GYN offices throughout the country. It quickly spread online.

Karvunidis said she was horrified to see her idea co-opted with dangerous activities, and she chose not to have any ceremony when she was pregnant with her younger daughters.

“The whole thing is just absolutely insane,” said Karvunidis, now a law student in Los Angeles.

Even so, shooting an exploding target for a gender reveal party appealed to Jon Sterkel, the owner of a tree care business in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. Sterkel’s celebration in 2017 drew international media attention, but authorities ticketed him for detonating the kit without a state permit. Sterkel apologized, saying he didn’t realize he needed one, and prosecutors dropped the citation.

Sterkel said he and his wife bought the target because they had shot similar explosives in the past with proper safety precautions. They named their son Wesson, after the gunmaker Smith & Wesson.

“It’s just an everyday thing out here,” said Sterkel, who lives 20 miles from the Wyoming border. “We’re just a bunch of rednecks who love hunting and shooting, and we thought this was going to be pretty unique way to do it. If it’s done in the right way, in the right environment, then it’s totally enjoyable.”

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63 COMMENTS

  1. The problem is the pea brains out there trying to outdo what they’ve seen on tv,,, most of the time it’s the copycats that gets it wrong & then everyone pays for it with new laws because of the local idiots… wait & see, they will soon ban or severely restrict Tannerite type materials…

    • I bet you are right Nord. Where I live, two idiots had grass fires that got out of control during a drought. One was a charcoal grill left outside in the brown, dry grass that had the bottom filter left open and the other was a guy using military smoke grenades to flush out gophers.

      End result? We are now supposed to call the village and get permission to have a fire on our own property in our own fire pits. FFS! 15 years of everything being fine and two twits screw the entire community.

      • Don’t hyperventilate Nancy. In MANY/most areas you are required to NOTIFY the 911 center/PSAP that you are going to burn. The reason being, that your ditch/trash/brush fire results in every moron driving by with a cellphone calling 911 to report the fire (then credits themselves with a gold star for civic service/did something). On a busy road may be dozens of calls. They never actually STOP to DO anything. The Vol FD then has to drop their lives in order to respond to a nothing BS call. If it conditions are such that only a moron would be burning, the Fire Chief IS going to tell you that only a moron would be burning. If you do anyhow and burn down your neighbors house you ARE going to have a BIG problem.

    • None of the aforementioned incidents used Tannerite, you are being fed “Fake News” eat up, you seem to enjoy it…

  2. I don’t get it. Even though we could have known we didn’t “gender reveal” until we were in the delivery room. As for the explosives. They’re dangerous. I used C-4 and TNT when Uncle Sam gave them to me. As well as the odd hand grenade. Great fun, but not for the uneducated. We use Tannerite on the farm to take out the occasional beaver dam/lodge. We shoot it from as far away as possible.

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  3. Elaborate gender reveals are stupid. The “look at me” generation in full bloom.

    When my spawn were still in the oven, we just told people what they were after the ultrasounds.

    • I never wanted to know our kids’ genders until they were born (old school, like God intended, I guess you could say). But the first child was a slip-up on the part of the OBGYN ultrasound technician who assumed we wanted to know, and the second was because my wife insisted she wanted to know. So I never got my wish to be surprised.

      That OBGYN office, by the way, was sued later by another couple who bought all “boy” related things for their baby room, including wall paint, clothes, baby showers, etc. Then their child turned out to be a girl. They sued for financial damages and won.

      • I’m surprised one can sue over that. When we were told, they said it wasn’t a guarantee.

        I respect people who want the surprised, but dang it’s not for me. I had infrastructure to purchase! 😂

      • Sure there is, if you’re among the people upon whom the sharing is forced but don’t want to be.

        Like, say, neighbors to a far-too-large Tannerite (or similar) detonation.

  4. Forty five feet, c’mon really? People use Tannerite to playfully disassemble cars…from hundreds of yards away. I don’t even like shooting steel plates less than twenty five yards away, let alone something like this.

    • Last time my buddies and I went to the desert to shoot, we set up the usual AR500 targets 75 yds out, but placed one about 50ft from the line for handgun. One of the rounds ricocheted and grazed one of the guys along his cheek, and we determined that all steel targets from then on would always be set a minimum of 100 ft out.

    • “Forty five feet, c’mon really? People use Tannerite to playfully disassemble cars…from hundreds of yards away.”

      Like this?

      (Kinda a shame the truck missed, eh?)

      • Like somebody commented at the time – “You could practically smell the feces…”

        • Not sure how involved he actually was but the owner of the store that sponsored all this mustve been into some shady stuff. Ended up murdered under mysterious circumstances

        • The gin shop owner was part of the show, some kind of producer, and was the gu th who had the licenses to get the stuff used on the show.. the atf tried to get the main guy, Myers? Because they didn’t like the explosives used. Even though they were legally obtained and used under some kind of pyrotechnic or special effects licenses.. same thing Hollywood uses.. years later they tried again, searching everything, and ‘found’ like a tiny amount of hash oil residue… so of course guy loses all weapons

  5. Much as I hate all the gender talk, I want to point something out. My wife mentioned this to me and I feel its an important point to make.

    Dads. Don’t forget your daughters. My wife lamented the fact her family never taught her. My daughter will learn pretty much the same stuff her brother does. How to use tools, how to use guns, bows, how to ride horses, how to cook, how to change a tire, etc.

    I know many here do take their daughters shooting and hunting, but let’s try to get that to all of them that want to. I doubt I’ll ever get my wife to go hunting, but she does like the end result. The more we can spread this via our families and friends, the more we can hold onto what makes us Americans.

    (Both my kids were born here in Texas, so I’m not sure how to teach them the proper Appalachian ability to hold grudges across multiple generations:p)

    • It’s a precious parenting moment when your 10yo daughter proudly holds up a Barbie doll and exclaims “I got her right between the eyes!”
      (Crickett .22lr, 10 yds, iron peep sight)

      • “It’s a precious parenting moment when your 10yo daughter proudly holds up a Barbie doll and exclaims “I got her right between the eyes!””

        I *laughed*.

        There’s one momma who won’t worry if daughter’s boyfriend tries to go too far… 😉

        • Did the Appleseed thing with my daughter with a new to her 10/22.

          She picked out the colorful laminated stock for it that we put on it a few years later and I really enjoyed telling her it had arrived when I was picking her and the “boyfriend” up from school. She was enthusiastic and he had this look on his face like, yikes!

    • You think it’s bad when people don’t teach their daughters to shoot and hunt and fish stuff? I know a guy who had to teach his wife to cook, clean, and do laundry. I asked the lady how did she not learn that stuff, because my mom made sure my brother and I knew how to do all that too. She told me her mom would try to teach them, get frustrated that they weren’t doing it to her standards yet, and then just do it herself. Eventually their mom stopped trying to teach them. Neither this lady nor her brother knew how to do almost anything useful until they got married and their spouses taught both of them.

      • It’s a common problem.
        Kids can go to the gym for two hours but can’t take five minutes out of their day to take out the trash. Worse still, they get a driver’s license and have zero ambition to learn how to fill the damned gas tank or change a tire. Forty years ago there were no cell phones or computers hooked up to an Internet to distract people, but I lay a lot of the blame on parents and zero personal incentive to learn or be independent.

    • Everybody seems to think they’re a media conglomerate these days. Of course in actuality, they’re just narcissistic Instagram addicts who derive meaning in life from forcing themselves into the limelight as often and as pathetically as possible. It used to be that we talked about how great it was that the Internet and WWW let “anyone become a publisher!” Honestly, though, I’m losing my faith… for every instance of modern media letting something truly amazing break through into the public sphere, there are about a thousand examples of self-absorbed idiots spouting off, cancelling others, typing illiterate screeds, or otherwise wasting our time and energy on trivial, inconsiderate garbage.

      Inconsiderate: like, for example, setting off explosives near your friends, family, and uninvited neighbors who must really enjoy the noise.

      Announcing that your kid is a boy or girl or toaster or whatever isn’t amazing, it’s completely and totally ordinary. It’s boring, actually, and the clue is that you had to use EXPLOSIVES to make people care about it.

  6. “There’s this huge pressure to publicize these once-private moments”

    Really? Who is exerting all this pressure? Is threat of violence involved?

    • Pressure comes from social media sites like FB, Twitter and Instagram. People seem to want as many views, likes and whatever else they can get.
      Pure neediness IMO.

      • Narcissism, in my opinion.
        I’ve never had or needed a FarceBook or MySpace account but some people feel their whole lives revolve around posting their lives or hobbies to the world. Personally, outside your sphere of friends no one really has a need to know what you’re eating for lunch.
        Back in the day when an idiot chewed on blasting caps, ate Tide pods, or played with Tannerite it was never a media event. Now it’s an Idiocracy and tech makes the dissemination of stupidity universally available for consumption.

  7. So many fails:-

    Steel container not cardboard or plastic like fireworks displays use.

    Way to close – from memory 200 metres was dangerously close with 81 mm mortars, about the same explosives content of multiple tanerite. Once at range for a TOT shoot we had shrapnel go over 500 metres not feet.

    The me too I need it now on Facebook likes etc. As above we found out sex in the delivery room even 25 years ago. My niece this year told her mother and us about 6 weeks before it’s a boy. Not the whole world.

  8. Look at all the safety nannies come out! Just shoot tannerite from a safe distance and a reasonable amount. Want to blow something up with a heavy load? Check downrange 360 and shoot it at 1/4 or 1/2 a mile. Don’t start big fires in a desert. I love fun things like 650 hp plus cars, ARs with 100 round mags, full auto machine guns, smoky scotch, tannerite, crossbows, scuba diving, motorcycles, and the occasional dare. If you aren’t an idiot, you can have a lot of fun.

  9. While I think spending lots of dough on “gender reveal” is silly at least it’s pro-baby and pro-life. I sorta wanted a daughter but ended up with 4 sons and 3 granddaughters. As far as I KNOW…are the 4 Rules applicable for tannerite?😄

  10. While Im a bit to old to be a daddy willfully anyway.
    It sure takes a pea brain to use 2 pounds of an explosive to say Its a Boy!!!!
    Im also not at all surprised to have read about some women being killed at one of these parties.
    What ever happened to sending out a card for a birth announcement??
    Or an email as Id expect today instead.

  11. Serves them right for assuming the child’s gender. In fact, who are they do assume it’s even a child? It’s really more of a choice than a human…

  12. Whatever happened to something old fashioned, like “It’s… it’s… it’s… an Addams!” – Gomez Addams, Addams Family Values.

  13. Can not be said better than Mr. James White. “You can have plastic surgery to fix ugly, take pills to fix fat, but, you can not fix stupid! “

  14. Tannerite is getting a bad rap. I think the problem is that some people are using other brands, or mixing it up with other substances. Tannerite used to say that it doesn’t start fires if used as directed. I think they’ve since backed away from that, and now say that it isn’t designed to start fires, or something like that.

    In my experience, it doesn’t come closer to starting a fire, even when placed inside a flammable plush figure of Kenny from South Park (you bastards!)

    I also recall viewing a YouTube video of a guy using Tannerite brand explosive on dry grass, dry hay bales, and even dry hay bales with an open container of gasoline next to it, and it never started a fire.

    • If memory serves, the reaction produces nitrogen gas, not flames. The speed of the blast wave would tend to blow out any existing flames in the area. It does generate some heat, but I doubt enough to ignite anything. It is possible the detonation could cause one object to strike another and produce a spark, I suppose.

      With the exception of a *rapidly* expanding gas, Tannerite is pretty beguine stuff…

      • Even with real Tannerite, you need to heed the instructions for minimum safe distance (100 yards+), don’t place it inside objects, and use a pound or less. There’s an infamous case where a Georgia man lost his leg while shooting a 3 pounds of Tannerite inside a riding lawn mower from 25 yards.

  15. i’m waiting for the article, “gender-reveal pyrotechnics party results in inadvertant gender reassignment surgery”

  16. Basic explosives seem simple enough, but you can get in over your head and, well, get your head blown off, a lot more easily than I suspect many people would appreciate.

    I’ve worked a lot of years in and around the oil & gas industry, specifically the hydraulic fracturing segment, and have experience working with explosive engineers developing purpose-built charges. I’m not even talking about military applications, although military grade explosive powders are used. Even with sophisticated measurement equipment and testing facilities run by doctorate degreed engineers, things can go sideways sometimes.

    Guys mucking around with tannerite or black powder or ammonium nitrate as they saw on a Youtube could get themselves hurt. If you’re going to do the gender reveal thing, you might want to stick to cakes or balloons or something else fun, but harmless.

  17. As a native resident of some miles North of Knoxville, IA we should just stipulate that the gene poor is rather shallow in that area of Iowa. The is a strong Missouri influence in Southern Iowa.

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