Tribe Recognition Days Fun For Young And Old

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There is plenty for children to enjoy at Tonto Apache Tribal Recognition Days this weekend, including a gala carnival that brings together four different carnival companies and a fireworks extravaganza Saturday evening.

Featuring slides, inflatables, bounces, games, concessions and a rock wall, three of the four companies participating in the carnival are owned by police officers. One slide is 34 feet tall and the other 18.

Carnival hours of operation are Friday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

At about 8:45 p.m. right after the Saturday evening rodeo performance ends the sky over the casino will burst into a spectacular display of color, light and motion. With almost 1,500 aerial effects, this is a "large show," Kerry Welty, owner of Fireworks productions of Arizona, said. "This will be bigger than most Fourth of July fireworks shows. The grand finale alone will have 100 aerial shells."

The 30-minute fireworks show will originate from the big parking lot south of the casino.

Sporting events

Elimination softball and basketball tournaments featuring Native American teams from throughout the southwest are part of Tonto Apache Tribal Recognition Days taking place this weekend.

The 15-team "Big Murf" Memorial Modified Indian Co-Ed Slowpitch Softball Tournament will be played at Rumsey Park 2, with games scheduled from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, and 8 a.m. until the double elimination tournament is over Sunday.

The event is named after organizer Michelle Davis' uncle, Michael Ward, who was known as "Big Murf." A gridiron standout at Payson High School, Ward died when he was just 16.

The first-place team will be awarded bat bags and a trophy, while the second-place team receives pullover sweaters and a trophy, and the third-place team receives a trophy.

Two tournament most valuable players will take home either a bat or a glove, and all-tourney selections will be awarded T-shirts. Admission to softball games is free.

On the hardwood

The Howard Burdette Sr. Men's Basketball Tournament features 16 Native American teams battling in the air-conditioned Tonto Apache Activity Center located southeast of the casino.

Named after Tribal Chairperson Vivian Burdette's late brother, the tourney will be played Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Oct. 4 to 6. Final pairings and game times had not been determined by press time.

The first-place team will receive jackets and a team trophy, the second-place team T-shirts and a team trophy, and the third-place team will receive a team trophy. A sportsmanship team trophy also will be awarded.

Individual honors include all-tourney, with those chosen receiving jackets; most valuable player, who also receives a jacket; and top three-pointer, with the winner receiving a basketball. Admission to the basketball tournament is $1. For more information, call Randy Pryor, 474-7093.

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