A man was killed and another injured at a birthday party for a 15-year-old Mexican girl that become an internet sensation after more than a million people accepted her father’s invitation to attend.
In December, Cresencio Ibarra, from the central Mexican state of San Luis Potosí, inadvertently invited “everybody” to his daughter Rubi’s coming of age, or quinceañera, party.
“There will be a [horse race] with 10,000 pesos (£400), as for second and third places, we’ll work that out,” he said in a video that a local photographer posted on Facebook. Ibarra then added: “Everyone is cordially invited.”
Despite dozens of mocking internet memes and hundreds of thousands of gleeful acceptances, the party went ahead on Monday, with thousands of people turning up.
Although state police and Red Cross workers kept an eye on proceedings, a local man died after being trampled by his own horse, which was taking part in the traditional amateur race, or chiva.
Police had warned the crowds to stay clear of the race as there were no fences to protect them, but the man appears to have stepped out in front of his horse and died soon afterwards. Another man was reported to have been injured.
Several hundred guests had arrived by Monday morning for an outdoor mass, but the number swelled as the day progressed so that by evening there were thousands and the event resembled a rock concert.
Family members had to open a path for the girl through dozens of reporters and photographers snapping her picture so she could reach the mass. A large billboard saying, “Welcome to my 15th birthday party”, with Rubi’s picture towered over the tents and tables filled with food.
People had travelled from far and wide to attend the party and to sample their host’s generosity.
“I came to see if they would give me a dress for my granddaughter for her 15th birthday in May,” said Victoriano Obregón, who had come all the way from the northern state of Coahuila.
After the video emerged three weeks ago, Rubi’s mother explained that her husband had only been referring to everyone in the neighbouring communities, not the world, but by then the video had been picked up dozens of times on YouTube and had been seen by millions, sparking tributes by music stars, jokes and offers of sponsorship by companies.
Mexican airline Interjet published a promotion offering 30% discounts on flights to San Luis Potosi, under the slogan: “Are you going to Rubi’s party?”
Internet users published mocked-up photos of troops of turkeys, diggers stirring giant cauldrons of soup and massive crowds “heading for Rubi’s party”.
The actor Gael García Bernal made a parody video of the invitation, while the Mexican singer Luis Antonio López “El Mimoso” composed a song for Rubi. She even received an offer to appear on the soap opera The Rose of Guadalupe.
Sergio Octavio Contreras, a communications professor at La Salle-Bajío University in Mexico, said the saga was an example “of how the internet amplifies and makes hyper-transparent people’s personal lives and how traditional media look for stories on social networks to bring in new audiences”.
The Ibarras’ neighbours, meanwhile, hope the fascination with the quinceañera will endure beyond the festivities and bring money and improvements to the poor community, where there is a mescal distillery but people are pleading for mobile phone coverage.
“More than anything, this can bring attention to us … so people can see the unemployment,” said Rutilio Ibarra, a local resident.