2007 Ari's Coming of Age




Ari Echt-Wilson (here is another picture of Ari Echt-Wilson) had her "Bat Mitzvah Inspired" 13th birthday party on 9/30/07 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Age 13 is the age you become an adult in the Jewish tradition, so this is Ari's "Coming of Age" celebration. On this page are some pictures and videos from that day. 

(Read a personal description of Backblaze here.)



Starting at noon, a few friends and family gathered at "Romano's Macaroni Grill" in Albuqurque, New Mexico for lunch.  Ari and a few others got up and gave speeches.  Below everybody is milling about before lunch.


Below is Ramey Echt (Ari's mother), Ari Echt-Wilson and Carole Echt (Ari's grandmother, Ramey's mother).  Ari calls Carole "Nannie".


David Echt (Ramey's father, Ari's grandfather who she calls "Poppi") is talking with Jim Daniels.


Debbi Echt (Ramey's sister, Ari's Aunt) is trying to get one of her cameras to work.  In the background Ellie looks on.


Ari's Nannie, Ari, and Ari's Poppi.  Also known as Carole, Ari, and David.


Ramey and her father David.


A picture of everybody at Macaroni Grill as lunch was served.


Molly on the far left, Molly's mother Debbi Echt (Ramey's sister), and "Big Ari" Echt (Ramey's brother) on the right.  "Little Ari" (the birthday girl) was named after her Uncle Ari seen in the picture below.


Ari's four grandparents.  Howard and Virginia Wilson, David and Carole Echt.


Susan on the left in glasses, Mimi in pink, and Ellie on the right.


Ari Echt-Wilson between her two grandparents Howard and Virginia Wilson.


Brian Wilson (me!) and my niece Ari. Ari's father Randy is my brother.


Molly and Debbi.


Randy, Ellen, Ryan in front and Drew on the far right.


A table of Ari's teachers from kindergarten through middle school.


Jim, Susan, Ellie, and Mimi.


Emily (far lower left), then Rhonda (in blue shirt), Jessica (in pink), and Jalynn in white on the far right.


During lunch, Ari sat at the front at this table which had her whole family plus all of her grandparents.  That's Eli (Ari's brother) in the lower left corner looking at the camera.


Same picture, better angle to see some of the people at the table.


At the end of lunch, Ari got up and gave a speech about what this celebration meant to her.  Click on the video below to see a YouTube 10 minute EDITED DOWN version of Ari's 15 minute speech.  Click here for the whole 15 minute speech, in much higher quality FOR WINDOWS ONLY.  (Apple currently recommends the product "http://www.flip4mac.com/wmv.htm" to allow Macintosh computers to read "Windows Media Format" files.)

Click the above to watch a YouTube video of Ari's speech.  The transcript is included here below.

--------START of Transcript of Ari's Speech----------

The first thing I would like to explain is what this ceremony is all about. It is inspired by the Jewish tradition of a Bat Mitzvah but it is not really one. My family and I thought it was a very important step in my life and that it should be celebrated. We like to think of it like a coming of age ceremony for a child becoming an adult. My family and I havenít been active in traditional Judaism. There are other things that I have been a lot closer to and that have guided me through my life. One of them is peace. In a traditional Bat Mitzvah the girl will read from the torah (the Jewish holy book). Instead of using the torah as my holy book, I like to think of peace as taking the place of the torah. Usually a girl will study the torah for many years before having a Bat Mitzvah. In my life I like to think that Peace is an idea that I have studied for many years. But like studying the Torah, I still have many things to learn about peace.

At different stages in my life I have thought very differently about Peace and what a perfect world would be. I have thought differently about ways people could live their lives without having any problems and making everyone happy. One of my first ideas of peace was not to have any money in the world. Not even to have any trade. I thought that people could just be nice and share. If you wanted food you could just go to the house or farm where people grow food and ask them for it and they would give it to you. I thought people could all just be neighborly and give everyone what they wanted without a fuss. This idea is what kids are actually taught at a young age. In Kindergarten you are taught to always share nicely with everyone else and help other people. As I grew older I realized that it canít really work like that because people could start taking too much from one person or that person couldnít provide enough of what everyone needed. There are also always bad people in the world who donít like the way everything is going and want something different which could cause a lot of trouble. So I developed a new idea of a peaceful world. It would be similar to our world today but if anyone had some problem of some sort they could always just talk about it and the problem would be solved. That instead of war and fighting we could just have talking and everything would be ok. Now, I am kind of stuck. I have realized that a perfect world is really easy to imagine but not so easy to achieve. Almost anything I try to think of there is really no way to keep it perfect. And even if there was such thing as an absolutely perfect world I donít know how much fun it would be. If you donít have any more problems to solve then what is the point of living? If there is nothing to worry about then there really isnít any excitement, right?

I have done a lot of things to try and help peace in my life. For a while I started my own personal organization called Albuquerque Kids Saving the Rainforest. I would go to different parts of town and sell lemonade and fudge to people and all of the money that I raised would go to an organization called Earthís Birthday Project. When you donate to Earthís Birthday Project it protects acres of Rainforest. We protected 13.9 acres of land in 2005. I have also protested against the war in Iraq in local protests.

There is one idea that has never changed in my mind since I was four years old. I have always believed that animals are equal to people in every way and should be treated the same. One of the ways that I have expressed this idea is that I have been a vegetarian since I was four years old and I am hoping to continue to be one through my whole life. My idea is that people donít have to eat animals to live. There are other ways for us to get our protein and the nutrients we get from eating meat. Other animals in the food chain that have to eat other animals arenít open to all of the choices and possibilities that we are open to.

About a year ago, my Poppi (David Echt) asked me a very interesting question. He asked, ďIf you are flying over Andes with a plane full of pigs and the plane crashes and the only way to survive is to eat the pigs, would you eat them?Ē I was often asked a similar question from my friends when I was younger and my answer was always no, I wouldnít eat it. But I thought about it a little harder this time. The first answer I came up with this time was, ďNOĒ But this time I had an explanation. ďI believe that the Pig has the same right to live that I do. But at the same time it doesnít seem right to have both of us die when one of us can live,Ē I answered. Now if I was ever in that situation I donít know if that is how I would handle it. Even if one of the pigs was already dead I donít know whether I could handle eating it or if they were alive if I would think before I act. It is so hard to know what you would do in a situation if you arenít in it.

As you can see, I have gained wisdom and my ideas have changed. The main meaning for a Bat Mitzvah is a child becoming an adult. In my personal opinion, I donít think there is one specific time when someone becomes an actual adult. Even though I may technically be an adult I donít believe that I really am one until I am ready and until I know what path I am on in life. As I go through life I am always gaining wisdom and I always will. Take a look at my grandpa, he is 75, he was a math professor for 40 years, and he still doesnít know the answer to 2+2. You must always learn more and you can never stop learning because learning is what keeps you going. As long as you learn more you will always improve and get better. So I donít really believe that I am an adult yet but I do believe I am on the path towards being one.
There are a lot of responsibilities you must take on when you are an adult. For me, there are three that are the biggest. They are, responsibility, being yourself, and honesty. Responsibility is big for me because when you are an adult you no longer have your parents to look after you and you must do it yourself. You have to be able to make your own decisions and be able to look after yourself and do the right things. Being yourself is really important because as long as you trust yourself and your heart you will always do the right thing for you. People will also be able to trust you better knowing that you are being yourself. The last thing is honesty. It is very important for you to be honest with not only all of the people around you but you also have to be extremely honest with yourself. If you are always honest with yourself you can always trust yourself to do what is right and to follow your dreams.

As you grow older you get more privileges and rights along with the responsibilities. At thirteen there are some pretty cool privileges you get. One (my favorite) is that you no longer have to drink out of sipee cups at restaurants. I am like this twelve year old girl sitting at a restaurant and I order off the kids menu because of the drink and dessert that comes with it. So then the waiter/waitress comes in with my drink and it is in a plastic container with a straw and cartoon characters on the side. It gets me a little mad sometimes. Anyway, another privilege is that I get to take more money out of my parentís pockets! Other wise known as, I am accepted as an adult at movie theaters, restaurants, museums, and pretty much anything like that. As I continue to grow into an adult I will also get more privileges as I grow up. When I am 16 I get my driverís license so I can drive anywhere I want to without having to make my parents come with me. At 18 I become an official adult of the United States and I get to vote. And of course, at 21, I am legally allowed to drink which is not the biggest excitement for me right now.

There have been so many people in my life that have influenced me and have made me the person that I am today. I could not live and be the person that I am without these people. I am so glad to have them in my life.

  •  There are, of course, my parents, who I would not even be here without them. My mom has helped me established great habits that I will hopefully keep throughout my life. She has encouraged me to be such a healthy person in life and I really appreciate that. She has always been there for me and has always been so supportive.

  • My dad taught me one of the greatest things that I have learned in life and that is admitting. I always look up to him in how he always knows when he is wrong and he is always willing to admit it and to me that is really important. He taught me not to worry and that sometime it is ok to make mistakes.

  • My brother has played a very important role in my life that most brothers play. He will always be there to bug and I will always be there for him to bug. He is also a great person to have in my life and play with and have fun with. He will always be there for me.

  • My poppi has always been really important to me. He taught me that sometimes it is ok to cuss and to just enjoy life. The most important thing that he taught me though, that I actually didnít realize until I was much older is that if something makes you really happy, then you should do it. If your stomach is a little larger than a Barbie doll and eating raw steak and gigantic bowls of ice cream every night makes you happy then you should be happy. He taught me that no matter how much your annoying granddaughter bugs you about your eating habits, you should always do what makes you happy.

  • My Nannie has also been influential in my life. Whenever I went to their house she would always sing ďAinít it Great to be CrazyĒ that helped me fall to sleep. And basically everything about their house was the most fun thing in the world. Going places with them, eating dinner at their house, playing with Sockey and Alfie, going on walks with them, everything about them is memorable. I love them so much and always will.

  • My Aunt Debbi has always been the one person I love to talk to. She has always been there for me to talk to and I love talking to her. I remember one trip out to California when we hiked up the mountains near her house and sat on a ledge looking out over an absolutely beautiful view of green, talking and eating orange sherbet out of oranges.

  • Awesome Uncle Brian taught me to relax. I donít know whether I am putting his wonderful teachings into actions yet but he has helped. He taught me to relax and to have fun and not worry about money so much.

  • Grandma and Grandpa have also been really important in my life. Grandpa taught me that grandpaís are always right and that 2+2=22. They both taught me to work hard and they have always made the best applesauce, jam, and fruit leather ever.

  • My teachers have been one of the greatest influences in my life. Because of them I have always loved school and loved to learn. They have supported me and taught me a lot of what I know in life. Mrs. Karas was the first person to introduce the rainforest to me and that was a really big point in my life. The rainforest has inspired me to do a lot and so has she. Mr. Starr was a really fun teacher and made my sixth grade year one of my best years along with all of my other teachers including Ms. Leung.

  • Mimi has been one of my best friends ever. She taught me to imagine. We always have a lot of fun making up weird people and playing around with them and talking about things that make no sense but to us are really important. I also want to thank her for putting up with me going absolutely crazy around her.

  • My cousin Molly has been a big inspiration in my life. She has taught me that no matter what happens in life that I should always leave a small slot of time to be a kid and to have fun. Watching her makes me smile and make me have fun. She helps me remember that it doesnít matter how popular you are or what clothes you wear but to have fun and never let the kid out of you is really the important thing in life.

  • There are actually some important people in my life that arenít around anymore but are still very important to me. My Great Grandma taught me a lot about history and the depression and I learned a lot from all of the antiques that I have from her from her house. I also want to thank all of my great grandparents and even those I didnít get to meet. I want to thank them for bringing up the people who brought me up. I know that they influenced their lives a lot and because of that they have influenced me. I also want to thank my second father, Poe. He has been with me my entire life and having to lose him was very hard. He unfortunately isnít here anymore but he will always be in my heart.

    I have also had some people who have influenced me a lot who I have not met but I wish I could. The biggest person is Martin Luther King Jr. He has influenced me a lot about peace and war. He also said one of my favorite sayings, ďHate can never drive out Hate, only LOVE can drive out Hate.Ē Other people that have been really important are Jane Goodall, Diane Fossey, and Gandhi. They have all influenced me in different ways and made me the person I am today.

    I hope that all of these people and ideas will stay with me my entire life and I know they always will. I hope I can always continue to study peace and I will always learn more. I hope it will guide me through my life and be my holy book. Like the Torah, Iím sure that I will always be learning more about peace and how I want to live my life. Thank you for all coming and supporting me in this coming of age ceremony and for all being important people in my lives, I really appreciate it.

    -- speech by Ari Echt-Wilson, delivered 9/30/07 in Albuquerque, New Mexico

    --------END of Transcript of Ari's Speech---------

    Several other people then gave speeches about Ari.  Below is Eli (Ari's 11 year old younger brother) who gave a VERY funny speech.  I only got part of it on video, here are those parts.  Click on the video below for a YouTube version.  Click here for a higher quality WINDOWS ONLY version. (Apple currently recommends the product "http://www.flip4mac.com/wmv.htm" to allow Macintosh to read "Windows Media Format" files.)

    Click the above to watch a YouTube video of Eli's funny speech about his sister.


    After Susan gave a speech, Ari gave her a hug as seen in the picture below.


    Ari smiles at Jim during his speech.


    Ari's friends Ellie and Mimi sang the song "For Good" from the musical "Wicked" (it is a Broadway musical about the background story of the characters from the Wizard of Oz).  Ellie is seen on the left below and Mimi in pink on the right.  The performance was excellent, unfortunately my camera ran out of memory just a few seconds before the end of the song.  Click on the video below for a YouTube version.  Click here for a higher quality WINDOWS ONLY version. (Apple currently recommends the product "http://www.flip4mac.com/wmv.htm" to allow Macintosh to read "Windows Media Format" files.)


    After Ellie and Mimi sang, they gave Ari the witches hat for when Ari feels like being a little "Wicked".


    Ellie and Mimi also gave Ari a tiara for when Ari is feeling like a little princess.


    Carole (Ari's Nannie) giving a speech while Ari looks on.


    After lunch, as everybody broke up, milled about, and went home.


    One more picture of after lunch.


    At 3pm, Ari started her "pool party" back at her home in Albuqerque.  This was a much more traditional 13 year old birthday party with a bunch of Ari's friends.  Below is a picture of the back deck as the party started, that's Marilyn talking with Randy (Ari's father) on Randy's deck.


    Some of the guests at Ari's 13th birthday party.  You can see Ari third face from the far left with the white ribbon around her dress.


    The music DJ ("Disk Jockey") setup by the pool in Ari's back yard.


    A table full of presents from various people.


    Ethan on the left, Samantha in black, and Carole Echt (Ari's grandmother) on the right.


    All the kids out by the pool.


    A bunch of kids at Ari's 13th birthday pool party.  Below is a picture of Ari's deck on their house overlooking the pool.


    A bunch of kids in the pool at Ari's birthday party.


    Ethan sang a karaoke song "Bohemian Rhapsody" by the band "Queen".  Ethan got backup from Susan and Ellie, and the performance was GREAT!


    Here are all the kids in the pool watching Ethan, Susan, and Ellie sing.


    Kids dancing to the DJ music by the poool.


    Randy and Ramey (Ari's parents) swing dancing by their pool amongst all the kids at the birthday party.


    Randy and Ramey (Ari's parents) swing dancing.


    One last picture of Randy and Ramey (Ari's parents) swing dancing.


    At one point in the party, Ari's parents put on a video slide show of a bunch of pictures from Ari's life, some very old (when Ari was 1 year old) and some more recent.  Here is the party gathering to watch this slide show.


    On the TV (if you look close) is a picture of Ari at age 1.  Everybody at the party is gathered watching this slide show.


    The audience watching the slide show about Ari's life.


    A little while later, some more dancing.  Here are the kids in a big long line dancing.


    Ari's birthday cake had edible frosting with a photograph on it.  That's a picture of Ari.


    Below is the moment Ari blew out her birthday candles on her cake.


    Jim dishes out ice cream, Randy (Ari's father) cuts the cake and serves it to the kids.


    Everybody waiting for birthday cake and ice cream.


    Lucky (Ari's dog) really wanted some birthday cake.


    So here Lucky gets some cake!  Lucky was very happy.


    After all the guests were gone, Ari opened her gifts.  That's Eli (Ari's brother) on the far left, Ramey (Ari's mother), Emily, Ari in the purple top, Randy (Ari's dad) in back, and Debbi (Ari's aunt) on the far right with pencil and paper.  At Debbi's feet is Molly, Debbi's daughter.


    A panorama of the whole family half way through opening presents.  The grandparents are on the far right.

    That's it! 


    (Read a personal description of Backblaze here.)

    Return to Random Stuff

    Return to Ski-Epic home page.