By , Joshua Rhett Miller
Published October 24, 2018
The parents of a 6-year-old boy whose classmates didn’t show up for his birthday pizza party said their son is over the pie-size disappointment — but they still regret sharing the photo that made the story go viral.
Sil Mazzini and Ted Bollinger said the birthday bash on Sunday at Peter Piper Pizza in Tucson for their son Teddy was the boy’s “first birthday party” at a venue, a chance for him to let loose with his 32 classmates from BASIS Tucson Primary school. But an hour into the shindig, no one had shown up — sending the family’s spirits into a tailspin.
“I was bummed, I was bummed out for sure,” Bollinger told The Post in a phone interview late Tuesday. “Teddy, the biggest things for him was having his classmates there, so not seeing them show up an hour into the party was disappointing.”
So Bollinger and Mazzini did what most parents would do in that situation — kept their son occupied.
“He’s 6, so he was distracted by the arcade games, the pizza, he got over it quick,” Bollinger said. “He’s tough. But when Sil told me she was posting [the photo], I told her not to do it, but she did and it took off. It’s pretty wild.”
Mazzini said she sent the picture in “disbelief” when none of the “20-something” guests she had expected showed up. After giving invitations to Teddy’s teacher with her phone number on them, she said she got “like 15 RSVPs,” and a few others who responded that they wouldn’t be making it.
“I was kind of shocked and then at the end when I had to pay for it, I was upset,” Mazzini said of the $130 bill. “That’s why I wrote a message. But I never expected any of this, for this to go so viral.”
But Mazzini said she now wishes she hadn’t sent the photo of Teddy sitting alone in front of several half-eaten pizzas to a local news website, kicking off an absolute frenzy that will continue Wednesday night — when the family goes as special guests to watch the Phoenix Suns take on LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.
“Honestly, I would love to go back in time and not have sent that message,” Mazzini said. “We don’t want all the attention. We didn’t do this for attention or for gifts or anything. I did it in the moment but I wasn’t smart. I was upset. That’s it.”
As for people who criticized her decision, Mazzini said: “I don’t know, I cannot say anything. It happened and you know, he’s a loving boy and I give him a lot of love and I provide for him, so he’s content. He wasn’t sad that day, just during that moment.”
Mazzini said Teddy quickly got over the dismay of partying alone because Bollinger — who works in an Alaska oil field and is gone for weeks at a time — had “come all the way” from his job site to be with his son.
“So at the end of the day, he was very happy,” Mazzini said.
Still, Teddy won’t be having a birthday party next year, she said.
“No, we are not,” she said. “Not anymore, I don’t think so because it’s so much planning for me. I will just take him on a trip.”
Mazzini said she gave Teddy three options for his birthday party: a trip to Disney World, an excursion to Legoland or a party with his classmates. He chose the third, she said.
Teddy, meanwhile, returned to school Monday and has seemingly moved on, Mazzini said.
“All the kids saw him and they told him that they were very sorry,” she said. “They forgot to go. It was a tough day for him, but it happened and we’re moving on.”
Bollinger said Teddy “understands people are busy” and didn’t take the no-shows personally. They’re now focused on attending the family’s NBA game — “It’s going to be insane,” Bollinger said — and navigating the deluge of well wishes and unsolicited gifts for Teddy from strangers across the globe.
“I just honestly thought this would be local news in Tucson and maybe Phoenix, but we’re getting calls from around the world,” Bollinger told The Post. “It’s nothing like I would’ve ever guessed, never in my wildest dreams.”