A local event photographer posted the video describing a down-home 15th birthday party complete with food, horse races and local bands to his Facebook page, which is usually dedicated to announcing weddings, baptisms and other events in a rural corner of the northern state of San Luis Potosi.
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But the video was picked up dozens of times on YouTube, with each version getting hundreds of thousands of views. It has been seen by millions, sparked tributes by musical stars, become the butt of jokes, and drawn sponsorship offers by companies.
Maybe it was daughter Rubi Ibarra’s rhinestone tiara and faux leopard-skin dress, or father Crescencio Ibarra’s cowboy hat, and his halting description of a 10,000-peso ($500) prize for the “chiva,” a horse race that would cap the party.
“There will be a chiva (race) with 10,000 pesos, as for second and third places, we’ll work that out,” Ibarra says proudly. “Everyone is cordially invited.”
Rubi’s mother, Anaelda, told a local television station that “my husband made the invitation, but to people who live in neighboring regions. I don’t know who copied it, but they posted it and it blew up, as if it were an invitation to the entire world.”
Mexicans often throw big bashes in what is the equivalent of an American “sweet sixteen” party. But the Ibarra family learned over the last week that no corner of the internet – and no invitation – is local anymore.
Authorities in the northern state of San Luis Potosi said they were adding extra security measures for Rubi’s 15th birthday party on Dec. 26.
State congressman Roberto Segovia has said he wants Red Cross and state civil defense personnel to be posted around La Joya, which only has several thousand inhabitants.
“We are offering this help, because it was something impressive, how this phenomenon grew on social media, and it has caused quite a stir in our district,” Segovia said. “We are contacting the family and the police forces and emergency agencies to provide security in the area.”
The Mexican airline Interjet published a promotion offering 30-percent 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.”
The internet memes were punctuated by frequent images of goats, because Crescencio Ibarra used the term “chiva” -the Spanish word for goat, which is also local slang for a two-horse competition- to refer to the race to be held at the party.
Actor Gael Garcia made a parody video of the invitation, in which a man with razor stubble plays Rubi and a goat bleats in the background.
Norteno singer Luis Antonio Lopez “El Mimoso” composed a “corrido” especially for Rubi, with the line “Never before in history has a 15th birthday party created such a fuss.”
Lopez dedicated it, “If they don’t invite me, here goes my humble gift for Rubi on her 15th birthday.”
That line was a reference to Crescencio Ibarra’s brief decision to un-invite everybody but friends and family after he saw the attention his offer was getting.
“It got out of control,” Ibarra said.
He then relented and re-instated the offer. “Everybody who wants to come, you’re all invited,” he said.