July 23, 2004
Perry Wambaugh celebrated her 11th birthday in a most non-traditional fashion: She leaped into a pile of mud. The slushy surprise gift came courtesy of her Scottsdale Blackhawks soccer team.
“I'll open my regular presents later, after I wash off,” said the Cheyenne Traditional School student as the brown stuff dripped from head to toe.
“I feel weird.” The Scottsdale Blackhawks were among an estimated 10,000 visitors, mostly children ages 1 to 13, who participated in Scottsdale's 29th annual Mighty Mud Mania at Chaparral Park on Friday.
The soccer team prepared for the day-long event by “decorating” their rented, white, 15-passenger van with streaks of mud.
“We painted the van with mud at home,” said Monica Wambaugh, a soccer coach and Perry Wambaugh's mother. “It got us in the right mood.”
“Despite the heat, the crowd is just as large as ever,” said Terry Erickson, who has coordinated the event for the past 21 years. “And I still enjoy getting dirty,” said Erickson, who was as mud-splattered as many of the children.
Like Cara Zeidler, 11, a student at Desert Mountain Middle School.
“I feel thick,” said the mud-covered Zeidler.
“And I feel disgusted,” said Taylor Rice, 11, a student at Ashland Ranch School in Gilbert. “I don't like mud.”
The children romped through 100 tons of fine dirt that was turned into mud at two obstacle courses, one for children 7 and older and the other for those 6 and under. Toddlers played in less grimy areas, while those who preferred cleanliness slid down a soapy water slope.
The reaction to the muddy obstacles varied, depending on the degree of muddiness.
“I feel heavy,” said Natalie Kish, 7, a student at Copper Ridge Elementary School several minutes after exiting the final mud bath — and as the mud began to harden.
“I feel dirty,” said Adam Ahuett, 8, as his father, Matthew Ahuett of Scottsdale watched the mud turn to a bread-like crust on his son's forehead.
“I was a little concerned about the heat, but we're having a great time. It's a well-run event,” Ahuett said. “Getting dirty is fun!”