Street signs have been removed, streets closed off and alcohol is banned at the local train station: the Groningen commuter town of Haren is ready for thousands of youngsters who are threatening to turn up to a party on Friday evening.
What should have been a small-scale 16th birthday party has grown into a massive internet hype after 15-year-old Merthe announced plans to celebrate on Facebook, but did not add the event is a private gathering.
Word spread from friend to friend, and by Tuesday, the event had gone viral with spoof videos, dedicated websites, t-shirts and ‘after-parties’. A number of YouTube films were put together, promoting the event under the moniker Project X Haren, after an American film based on a suburban party that got out of hand.
According to news agency ANP, one film production company is planning to offer live streaming from the party location from 16.00 hours, using a drone aircraft to film whatever happens.
Nos television reports the girl and her family have now gone into hiding.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people have pledged to turn up in the town, which has a population of 18,000. The council on Thursday rejected a licence to organise an ‘alternative event’ because ‘we cannot guarantee public safety’, a spokesman said.
Marketing expert Angelique Lombarts told the NRC Haren can benefit from the hysteria. ‘Everyone knows its name, and this is a unique chance because you never get so much free publicity,’ she said.
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