Kim Smith squeezed her daughter’s hand as a tattoo needle pierced the small of Alexa Smith’s back during Washington State University’s annual Mom’s Weekend in Pullman on Saturday afternoon.
“We thought we would go do something fun,” WSU freshman Alexa Smith said. “We would either go watch a movie or get tattoos.”
Alexa Smith added a turtle to a Hawaiian-themed tattoo on her lower back, but her mother chose to pierce her upper ear instead.
“It’s unusual, and more fun than some of the other events offered,” Kim Smith said. “Just being here with (Alexa) is fun.”
Mystical Tattoo artist Robby Slaughter spent about 20 minutes adding the turtle to the self-proclaimed wuss’s back. “At one point I thought she was going to pass out,” Kim Smith said of her daughter.
The two decided to get the tattoo and piercing in between more traditional Mom’s Weekend activities such as brunch and a luau.
Mystical Tattoo was one of the Pullman and Moscow businesses hoping to cash in on the more than $1 million that Fritz Hughes, Pullman Chamber of Commerce executive director, estimates floods the area every Mom’s Weekend.
Chris Peltier, another artist at Mystical Tattoo, was expecting the rush of moms, even offering a half-off special for moms getting tattoos.
“There were a lot of moms who called this year and asked if they needed appointments, because last year, we were so busy we turned some away and couldn’t get them in,” Peltier said.
Also, there was only one artist last year, so Peltier said the shop brought in two artists from Las Vegas for the weekend.
Officials estimate nearly 10,000 mothers traveled to Pullman for the more than 100 activities, exhibits and special programs planned by WSU and student organizations.
Whoopi Goldberg performed at the Beasley Performing Arts Coliseum, the Mom of the Year brunch was sold out, and the WSU firefighters and their moms hosted the 12th annual Mom’s Weekend Pancake Feed Saturday.
Hotels in Pullman and Moscow were booked up weeks and in some cases months ago. Area hotel employees said they had been referring people to hotels in Lewiston and Spokane.
Alice Coil, adviser to the Mom’s Weekend committee, said the majority of visitors this weekend are mothers, but fathers, siblings and grandparents also visit.
WSU freshman Jeffery Thatcher brought his stepmother, Shanin Thatcher, and her mother, Laurie Smith, who were visiting from Seattle to watch as Shanin got the Chinese character, or kanji symbol, for spirit tattooed on her left foot.
“This may not be the most typical Mom’s Weekend event,” Laurie Smith said. “Let’s just say that the craft fair wasn’t up our alley.”