Sara and Matt Taglieri were enjoying dinner at their home in New Hampshire on Tuesday when a deafening blast knocked pictures off their walls and shook their house’s foundation. Their first thought was that there had been an accident at the concrete plant near their home.
They were partially right.
The massive explosion that rocked their Kingston, N.H., neighborhood and rattled nearby towns had come from a quarry by the plant, police said – but it had nothing to do with making concrete.
Instead, a man detonated 80 pounds of explosives as part of an elaborate gender-reveal party stunt, the Kingston Police Department told the New Hampshire Union Leader.
No injuries were reported, Kingston Police Chief Donald Briggs Jr. told the Union Leader, but the blast frightened neighbors, left nearby homes with cracks on their walls and appeared to turn the local tap water brown.
“We are all about celebrating happy moments like having a baby, but their celebration was felt and heard not only by different neighborhoods but through different towns,” Sara Taglieri, 41, told The Washington Post. “It’s not like we are upset because there was blue or pink confetti on our yard. It was such a large blast.”
Police said that the unidentified man who purchased and ignited the explosives had turned himself in and was cooperating with authorities. The incident remains under investigation and no charges have been filed, police told the Union Leader.
The explosion is the latest gender-reveal celebration gone wrong. In recent years, a practice that became popular following a 2008 parenting blog post has sparked multiple wildfires, led to several deaths and caused at least two plane crashes.
This year, at least two gender-reveal incidents have turned fatal. In February, a 28-year-old father-to-be died after the homemade device he was preparing for his gender-reveal celebration in New York malfunctioned inside his garage. Last month, a small aircraft hired to release a pink cloud for a gender-reveal gathering in Cancún nosedived into a lagoon, killing the pilot and the co-pilot.
The Taglieris, who work in IT and finance, are used to hearing dynamite detonations at least once a month at the plant, the couple said. But those detonations are usually announced by the company at least 24 hours in advance so residents of the rural town of nearly 6,500 are not caught off guard.
“We are used to dynamite blasts,” said Matt Taglieri, 41. “This was way louder and way more powerful than a dynamite blast. The fact that they did this without giving us any warning, we were livid. We were very upset that they did this.”
Moments after the blast on Tuesday, which was recorded by the doorbell camera of a resident, the Taglieris called 911 to report the incident.
When an officer came half an hour later, he told neighbors gathered outside that the bang was a “recreational blast” caused by Tannerite, a legal, over-the-counter explosive often used in target practice.
When neighbors asked for more details, the officers said police had been alerted about the gender-reveal celebration, adding that the organizers had permission to host the celebration.
On Wednesday, Briggs Jr. told the Union Leader police found a container filled with chalk and Tannerite and the ground covered in blue dust at the quarry. Police said those hosting the celebration chose the quarry because they thought it would be a safe location to set off the explosion.
By Thursday, just like other neighbors, the Taglieris were still assessing the damage to their property, which suffered a crack in its foundation. They said they hope whoever is responsible for the detonation pays for the costs of its aftermath.
Briggs Jr. told WBTS that although the explosives were legal, police are looking into the property damage and could file charges.
“To find out it was a gender reveal, it was extreme,” Sara Taglieri said. “You are not expecting pictures to fall off your wall at 7 p.m. while you’re having dinner from somebody celebrating having a baby.”