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Go jump in a mud puddle!

How to throw your own ‘mess fest’ party

have your own muddy puddle party
It’s a reminder to all parents to let children be just that — children.

Gloria Darmanin’s niece, Molly, 7, gets messy alongside Darmanin’s son Hudson, 2. Darmanin turned her backyard into a giant mud pit party in honor of the Ty Louis Campbell Foundation and The Muddy Puddles Project. The project encourages kids to be kids, and the joy found in the simple act of jumping in a muddy puddle is a perfect demonstration of how incredibly beautiful childhood can be.

“Don’t jump in that puddle!” usually comes out of a parent’s mouth at the exact moment that our children are already ankle deep. We cringe at the messes left behind from our little ones. The chocolate candy smeared across their hands as they touch our shirts or the finger paints that managed to decorate our walls.

The way I looked at these every day nuisances, changed forever the night that I read the story of “Super Ty.” 

Ty Louis Campbell, who succumbed to cancer in 2012 at the age of 5. He loved to jump in puddles. After Ty passed away, instead of gifts of flowers, his family launched The Muddy Puddles Project, asking his supporters to celebrate the joys of childhood in his honor.

In 2012, Ty Campbell passed away from cancer at 5 years old. The thing he spoke about the most while living in the hospital was jumping in muddy puddles. A simple thing that we take for granted was another child’s dream. His parents were committed to finding ways to fund more research towards safer and more effective treatments of pediatric cancer.

This was how The “Muddy Puddles Project” came to be. It’s a reminder to all parents to let children be just that — children — and to not sweat the small stuff, all while also raising money for the Ty Louis Campbell foundation.

After staying up half the night reading his website, I knew that that I needed to do something immediately. I began working on my own “mess fest” in honor of Ty and to make a donation to the TLC foundation. You don’t need a reason to have one, but wouldn’t a “mess fest” be a great alternative for a birthday party?

“After reminding my husband that grass grows back and what the fundraiser was for, he agreed to use our home to host,” says Darmanin.


Pick a date and location:

This can be held at a school, community center, or your own backyard! After reminding my husband that grass grows back and what the fundraiser was for, he agreed to use our home to host.

Plan your event:

How messy are you going to get? Arts and crafts? Water balloons? The possibilities are endless, but don’t forget the muddy puddles! Perhaps a plastic swimming pool full of mud or just some mud pies? I had the “go big” mentality and chose to make a huge mud pit perfect for everyone jumping together.

Reach out to businesses:

First things first, I needed mud! Yes, I could have just started digging my own dirt but a local construction company stepped right up. J Mullen & Sons Inc. in Saugerties dropped off a truck full of fresh dirt. Score!

Next up, snacks! What’s the messiest snack I could think of? Ice cream sundaes. I did have to go to a couple local stores before Hannaford in Kingston gave us buckets of ice cream and toppings. PriceChopper in Saugerties contributed a gift card for the paper goods. My Brother Bobby’s Salsa supplied us with my personal favorite salsa and Adams Faireacre Farms with the chips. The local fire station allowed us to use a big water cooler. I love when a community comes together to make a difference. 

Don’t be afraid to ask: the worst someone will say is “I’m sorry, we can’t.”

Create invitations:

Depending how you choose to plan your party, you will want to either make public signage or a private invite. I used Facebook events and started inviting every family I knew. I carried a couple of handmade invites to give while I was out as well. Include what is to be expected so they can bring a change of clothes and towels. On the invitation, we included links to the websites and asked for a donation of any amount at time of the party.

Event day: 

Set everything up and remember the most important part is to have fun! This goes for the adults, too. I gave fair notice that no adult was going to be safe from the mess. We did give a courtesy hose off to everyone before they left. Take lots of photos! Besides the memories, you can upload them to The Muddy Puddles Project website along with your donation.

Follow up: 

Send a “thank you” to everyone who participated by attending, donating or contributing from a business. I included photos from the event when sending a “thank you” to the businesses.

We collected over $400 between those who attended and those who couldn’t but still contributed. Ty’s family was happy that we honored their son with a special day by letting kids be kids for all those that can’t.

There is a quote by Ty’s mother, Cindy, that has stuck with me ever since I first read it: “Let your kids jump in muddy puddles! Let them get wild with finger paints and glitter. Soon they’ll be all grown up and see dirty clothes and wet shoes as nothing but a nuisance. Help them find joy in the simple things that we no longer appreciate as adults.” My wish is that everyone will find joy in making your own beautiful messes from this day forward.

Gloria Darmanin lives in Saugerties with her husband and two sons.