Perry Wambaugh celebrated her 11th birthday in a most nontraditional way: She leaped into a pile of mud. The slushy surprise gift came courtesy of her Scottsdale Blackhawks soccer teammates.
“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 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 daylong 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 who was as mud-splattered as many of the children.
Like Cara Zeidler, 11, a student at Desert Mountain Middle School in Scottsdale.
“I feel thick,” said the mud-covered Cara.
“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.
“I was a little concerned about the heat, but we're having a great time. It's a well-run event,” said Matthew Ahuett whose son Adam, 8, was caked in mud. “Getting dirty is fun!”