There are a number of ways to celebrate a birthday.
Maybe you go out for a nice dinner or invite friends and family over for a party. Perhaps you hit the golf links or head to the movie theater to catch a new flick.
Surely, not too many people would find a turd toss from the seat of an outhouse or being draped in toilet paper in front of a large group of people — many strangers — as the ideal way to commemorate another year of life.
But for the Armstrong family, it was perfect … almost.
Guys Mills resident Larry Armstrong and his family celebrated his 70th birthday Saturday by participating in the inaugural outhouse races at the Townville Old Home Days.
Larry served as the rider for “Royal Flush,” while his son John Armstrong and Stan Hilliard served as pullers and pushers for the three-person team responsible for negotiating the racing outhouse through a 75-yard course that included three obstacles along the way.
“We got all the family together today so it was a big family event,” said John Armstrong, of Grove City. “It’s real special. It was really fun getting that toilet paper and teepeeing him on his 70th birthday.”
Larry and his wife, Nancy, organized the races.
The two have competed in such events for a few years now and thought the event was entertaining enough to introduce to the Old Home Days planning committee. The spectators who came by to witness the event at Maplewood Elementary School concurred as their laughs, cheers and quirky comments throughout indicated.
A total of five teams participated. In addition to Larry’s team, a group from the Lyona Bible Church youth group, two groups from Breedtown Baptist Church and a team representing Porter’s Fleet Service competed in the comedic event.
About 50 people gathered the elementary school playground eager to witness their first outhouse races. Nancy introduced each of the five teams as they paraded through the course and practiced throwing the stuffed brown socks (also known as “turds”) into a portable toilet and placing a roll of toilet paper onto a plunger as they sprinted to the finish line.
She warned the spectators to expect the unexpected and to steer clear of the ropes.
“You don’t want anyone to have a crappy day,” she joked.
One team member sat inside the outhouse, while two stood in front at opposite ends to steer and drive the outhouse through the course. The teams had to pick up a roll of toilet paper in their first obstacle, steer the outhouse down to the end of the course, line it up behind a blue line and have the member sitting inside the outhouse successfully throw three turds into the toilet. Once completed, the drivers pulled the outhouse as fas as they could toward the finish line placing the toilet paper onto the handle of a plunger before sprinting to the finish.
Teams raced twice each and the times were averaged for the final results.
Larry started things off in the “Royal Flush” and set the bar pretty high. His team members were flawless through the first leg.
“Turds, I need turds,” Larry yelled to his team as it swung the outhouse around and lined it up near the turd toss.
“Good job, birthday boy,” Hilliard yelled as Larry sank the three turds successively.
The “Royal Flush” crossed the line in 34.18 seconds. It was a pretty good time, but not quite good enough.
Shorty Miller, Caleb McAdams and Jeb Stutzman, in charge of manuevering “Dump Dynasty” through the course for Lyona Bible Church were untouchable. The trio finished their first trip in 29.93 and posted an outstanding time of 28.81 in the second trip for the win.
“Royal Flush” was second. “Knights of the Porcelain Throne” finished third.
“The main focus isn’t the winning,” Larry said. “It’s having a good time and watching the audience react.”
Of course, there is still some competitiveness. And Larry, who has participated in a number of outhouse races, is still looking for his first official win.
Larry did manage to get on outhouse, which blew out of the back of a truck while traveling on Interstate 80 over the Cuyahoga River on their way to a race in Michigan, across three lanes of 70 mile per hour traffic successfully, which he claims as a victory.
“That’s the only race we ever won,” Larry said.
It also served as John Armstrong’s introduction to his mom and dad’s newest hobby.
“When I heard that story, I thought, ‘O.K. That is crazy,’” John said. “Then he showed me the pictures of the event and I saw all of these people and the effort that they put into creating these outhouses. It’s incredible. It’s a great canvas to express your creativity.”
It’s an event Larry hopes continues at the Old Home Days.
“I think it will,” he said.
Prior to the start of the races, fans had the opportunity to vote for their favorite outhouse for 25 cents per vote. “Hillbilly Bowel Funktion Junktion” won that competition by a landslide to earn the Humdinger Trophy.
Lisa Byers can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.