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In Pics | What happens when a birthday party invite goes viral in Mexico

Looking overwhelmed by the attention, yet resplendent in an elaborate fuchsia dress and gleaming tiara, Rubi Ibarra celebrated her 15th birthday on Monday in a rural Mexican village after the invitation to the event by her father went viral and made her the toast of the country.

world Updated: Dec 28, 2016 01:42 IST
La Joya, Mexico
Rubi Ibarra,Open invitation to 15th birthday party,Father invites everyone to party
Rubi Ibarra poses during her 15th birthday celebrations in Villa Guadalupe, San Luis Potosi State, on December 26, 2016. Rubi, a small-town Mexican teen, welcomed thousands of guests for her 15th birthday party after her parents' video invitation to the milestone event went viral online.(AFP )

Looking overwhelmed by the attention, yet resplendent in an elaborate fuchsia dress and gleaming tiara, Rubi Ibarra celebrated her 15th birthday on Monday in a rural Mexican village after the invitation to the event by her father went viral and made her the toast of the country.

Family members had to open a path for the girl through reporters and photographers snapping her picture so she could reach the Mass for her in a field in central San Luis Potosi state. A large billboard saying “Welcome to my 15th birthday party” with Rubi’s picture towered over the tents and tables filled with food.

Read | Huge crowd joins Mexican teen’s party after invite goes viral

Thousands of people from across Mexico poured into the community of La Joya for the “quinceanera” celebration, a traditional coming-of-age party similar to American “sweet sixteen” parties in which Mexican families often throw big, costly bashes for their daughters.

“I came to see if they would give me a dress for my granddaughter for her 15th birthday in May,” said Victoriano Obregon, who came all the way from the northern state of Coahuila for an event which by Monday evening resembled a rock concert with music and large crowds.

Birthday girl Rubi Ibarra (centre) arrives for Mass that is part of her 15th birthday party celebrations, surrounded by a horde of journalists, in the village of La Joya, San Luis Potosi State, Mexico. ( AP )
Rubi Ibarra (centre) with her father Cresencio (right) and mother Anaelda during mass in La Joya, San Luis Potosi State, Mexico. The religious ceremony was the start of a long birthday party for the 15-year-old which saw thousands turn up in response to an open invite from Cresencio. ( AFP )
A couple, who travelled from Mexico City with a group of bikers, pose with a banner welcoming visitors to Rubi's down-home 15th birthday party in La Joya. They were among the thousands who responded to the open invitation to Rubi Ibarra’s birthday. ( AP )

Rubi’s bash gained national and international notoriety in early December after a local event photographer posted on his Facebook page a video of the girl’s father describing a down-home birthday party complete with food, local bands and horse races. In the video, cowboy hat-wearing Crescencio Ibarra haltingly but proudly describes the party and prizes, before announcing that “everyone is cordially invited.”

Rubi’s mother later explained that Crescencio 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 musical stars, jokes and offers of sponsorships 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 jokesters published photos of troops of turkeys, backhoes stirring giant caldrons of soup and massive crowds “heading for Rubi’s party.”

Actor Gael Garcia made a parody video of the invitation, and norteno singer Luis Antonio Lopez “El Mimoso” composed a “corrido” song especially for Rubi. The humble daughter of ranchers even got an offer to appear on the soap opera “The Rose of Guadalupe.”

Photo frames were part of the festivities, which visitors used to take pictures with. Rubi's 15th birthday party resembled a rock concert, and even featured live performances. ( AP )
A prayer book sits on decorative pillow before the start of Rubi Ibarra's Mass, as part of her down-home 15th birthday party in La Joya. Family members and friends had to pave the way for Rubi through the thronging crowds that showed up. ( AP )

“What happened with Rubi is an interesting 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” who they have been losing, said Sergio Octavio Contreras, a communications professor at Mexico’s La Salle Bajio University.

Jose Antonio Sosa, an expert on social media at the Iberoamericana University, said the country’s obsession with Rubi’s birthday party reflected a need for lighter stories in a society weary of violence and economic problems.

Horsemen take part in a race during Rubi’s birthday celebrations in Miguel Hidalgo, San Luis Potosi State. However, tragedy marred the race as two people entered the track and were hit by the horses. One of them died and the other was hospitalized with a broken leg, the state of San Luis de Potosi said. ( AFP )
Security staff transport a man injured during a horse race at Rubi Ibarra’s 15th birthday celebrations in Miguel Hidalgo, San Luis Potosi State. The race was part of celebration thrown by Rubi, a small-town Mexican teen, and her family. ( AFP )

All the attention seemed to take the poor communities near where Rubi’s family lived aback. The access roads were blocked with cars and state police and Red Cross workers monitored the situation.

Two women use face cut-outs depicting Mexican teenager Rubi Ibarra during her 15th birthday party in Villa Guadalupe. ( AFP )
Revelers dance at Rubi’s birthday which was held on open grounds in Villa Guadalupe, San Luis Potosi State. The almost day-long event was a one-of-kind party that saw people travel from miles to participate in Rubi’s coming-of-age birthday celebration. ( AFP )
Media personnel and guests go into a tizzy as Rubi Ibarra arrives for her birthday party. Journalists and a drone flying overhead covered the event in La Joya that became popular across the region, thanks to a Facebook video invitation Rubi’s father posted early in December. ( AP )
Rubi Ibarra is lifted in a dance sequence during her 15th birthday celebrations. ( AFP )
The 15-year-old dances during the celebrations for her birthday. ( AFP )
Rubi dances with her father Cresencio Ibarra at the celebrations. Cresencio’s open invitation on the internet, led to his daughter’s party becoming an internet sensation, and drew hundreds to the party. ( AFP )

Some locals said they hoped something good could come out of it for the communities, which have a mezcal distillery but where residents are pleading for cellphone coverage.

“More than anything, this can bring attention to us ... so people can see the unemployment,” said local resident Rutilio Ibarra.

First Published: Dec 28, 2016 00:33 IST