John Johnston reports:
Cooper Robinson sat patiently while his head turned a bright shade of green.
Pssshhht. Pssshhht. Pssshhht. A volunteer worked her magic with a can of hair spray paint, then applied the finishing touches: a white stripe down the middle of the 8-year-old’s noggin, followed by a block “M” stenciled onto both sides of his head.
Cooper could then proudly sport the Mason Comets “helmet head” look.
“It washes out,” said his smiling mother, Tara Robinson. “I think he would be OK if it didn’t.”
Green-haired kids, teens in white T-shirts and smiling adults were plentiful at Mason’s annual community tailgate, held last Friday before the home team lost to visiting Springboro. In a parking lot at Mason Middle School, adjacent to the football stadium, students, boosters and community groups set up about three dozen booths, none more popular than the hair painting station run by the Western Row Elementary PTO.
“I love the school spirit,” said Diane Pfennig, mother of a 2012 Mason High grad and a seventh-grader. “I love everybody coming dressed in their Mason gear. I love that there are community members who have no children in band or on the football team, yet they’re still coming to support the school.
“My feeling is this community is really built around the school district.”
Just as Mason has grown since Pfennig moved into the community in 2002 – the population jumped from 22,016 in 2000 to 30,712 in 2010, according to the Census – so has the annual community tailgate, which has been a tradition for more than 10 years.
“We come to this every year,” said Traci Allgor. Her son Matt, 16, was in pre-game preparation with his varsity football teammates, but his siblings – Katie, 14, Christopher, 12, and Cody, 7 – were primed for Tailgate ’12.
Mom asked Cody: “What’s your favorite thing you get every year at the tailgate?”
“The big horn,” he said.
Ah, the horn. It’s several feet long, made of green plastic and is sold for $3 at a booth run by the Mason Youth Lacrosse Club.
It’s also loud. Club president Randy Sagraves likens the sound to “a distressed cow.”
“Next year,” he said, “I think we’re going to sell earplugs.”
Wouldn’t want to wear them all the time, though, or you’d miss Meghan Reinertsen’s sales pitch for spirit wear.
“Brrrr. It’s cold in here!” she said into a microphone. Never mind that it was 90 degrees. “Come get your sweatshirts right over here!”
She and other members of the Mason High Dance Team sold more water than sweatshirts.
Another reminder that cold weather is coming: the Christmas in Mason booth, where Grace NeCamp, a 16-year-old junior, wore a sash and a crown and said proudly, “I’m the queen of Christmas in Mason.” The festival is held the first Friday in December.
Back at the hair paint booth, Eric Messer admitted that his head was “starting to get really itchy.”
He’s principal at Western Row Elementary. At 8 a.m., he allowed Alicia Farbstein, co-president of the school’s PTO, to spray his hair green, and stencil a white “M” on the back of his head.
Now Messer was spraying kids’ heads, including his twin 8-year-olds, Brady and Jacob.
Some people preferred the full-body treatment. Gene Park, a 16-year-old junior, said a “a spontaneous decision” led him and friends to cover much of their skin with green, white and black paint and a generous amount of glitter. They collaborated on the finishing touches: Gene applied a black hand print to the face of junior Austen Engen, who applied a hand print to the face of junior Kat Eagle, who applied a hand print to Gene’s face.
They could have captured their look in the photo booth run by the Mason Middle School Dance Team. Plenty of props were available, including a chicken head hat, feather boas, and zombie brain headgear.
As the afternoon turned to evening, with horns bellowing and burgers grilling, Channel 5 set up for a live broadcast. Sportscasters Ken Broo and Artrell Hawkins sat in front of a group of cheerleaders.
A few young boys who’d been to the hair-painting booth were there, too, jumping up and down. Because when you are a kid, the only thing cooler than being on TV is being on TV with green hair.