Cheered on by 1,000 fellow students, Pacifica High School senior Kenji Tanaka plunged head first into a vat of green goo and emerged $50 richer.
Tanaka and dozens of other students took the plunge for fun and profit Thursday during the school’s third annual St. Patrick’s Day Dive. At lunchtime, the student “divers” clasped their hands behind their backs and took turns bobbing for hot dogs wrapped in money that were hidden in a 30-gallon trash can filled with green gelatin.
“It’s cold. It’s really chilly, but this will take care of the chill,” Tanaka said, waving the $50 bill he plucked with his teeth from the bottom.
Wiping away the emerald-colored clumps that covered his face, he asked: “You think it looks good on me? It’s a brand-new look.”
The divers, each wearing plastic garbage bags over their clothes, held their breath and pushed their faces so far down into the can that many could no longer touch the ground. Two helpers tried to make sure that the participants didn’t lose their balance, but they were not always successful. One male student stalled the event after he dove in so enthusiastically that he somersaulted, spilling himself and the goo onto the ground.
Wearing a white T-shirt, jeans and a button that said “Kiss Me, I’m Irish,” student body activities director Erin Gaughen, 15, explained at the start of the event that $275, including two $50 bills, had been placed in the can. This announcement prompted bursts of applause and cheers from the crowd.
“One dollar?” exclaimed sophomore Monique Powell, 15, with exaggerated disappointment on seeing the results of her effort.
Describing the experience later, she said: “Oh my gosh, it is weird. You can’t see anything. It’s like burying yourself in your pillow for three minutes. And it’s sticky. I just hope I can get it out of my hair.”
Even though the diving area was cordoned off to keep the spectators at a safe distance, participants often splattered the crowd while shaking their heads to get the gooey gelatin off. Throughout the event, rock music blared from two speakers set up in the courtyard, often drowning out the shouts of encouragement and cries of disgust. Most of the songs had some relevance to the event, including one by the band AC-DC titled, “Money Talks.”
Although junior Rachel Rose, 16, didn’t win anything, she said she had fun trying. “You jump in, throw your feet up and squish around until you get something,” Rose said. “I’ve been looking forward to this all week.”