Youngsters Go for the Gold in Goofiness

Times Staff Writer

Ushica Hall may never play golf again.

The 7-year-old hit her ball inch by inch Thursday across 12 feet of turf. The trouble was, the golf club was her nose.

"I don't like it," she said. "It's too hard."

The occasion was Santa Ana's sixth annual Wacky Olympics, in which 150 children ages 6 to 12 competed for ribbons and prestige at El Salvador Park.

Put on by the city's Recreation and Community Services Agency, the Wacky Olympics gives out-of-school kids the chance to participate in seven unorthodox sports, such as the golf-ball race, a balloon toss, an obstacle course, a peanut toss and a one-legged long jump.

"It's based on the Olympic-style events," organizer Pearl Soria said. "We try to make it as wacky as possible. They are Olympic-type events done in a wacky, fun way."

The event, which drew children from 10 of the city's parks and recreation centers, gives youngsters a chance to meet others from throughout Santa Ana.

In some ways, the game mirrors the real Olympics. The opening ceremonies featured a parade, with teams representing mock countries such as Mad Ball City, the Jordan Jungle and the Arabian Nights. "Batman" was well represented by the Gotham City and Bat Land teams.

The Wacky Olympics even included the traditional running of the torch--a construction cone--and a special oath. But the pomp and pageantry did not detract from the real reason the kids were there.

And before the competitors got too antsy, Soria declared: "Let the wackiness begin."

There was the obstacle course, in which competitors had to crawl through tunnels, run over tires and slide down a water-soaked plastic sheet.

Amado Nuncio, 10, was the first to make it through the course in a little more than 10 seconds.

"When we get to the third cone, then we dive," he said, his hair and shirt dripping with water. "It's fun when you go slipping."

At the peanut toss, in which upright competitors get three tries to see how far they can throw peanuts back through their legs, kids had high hopes.

"I want to be famous," said Stephanie Rosas, 10, after tossing a nut several yards.

The golf-ball race seemed to have the toughest rules.

"Nose, nose, no head!" shouted supervisor Carolyn Jimerson as Gary Sabara, 10, crawled along the grass.

The rules might have been tough, but Gary still had more success than most. He finished the race in 43 seconds, way ahead of Ushica and other competitors.

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