On a very brisk Nov. 1 morning, dozens of people arrived at Mill Pond Park for the eleventh annual Pumpkin Roll. The participants seemed to know the drill. Families arriving around 9 a.m. walked directly to the top of the hill with their jack-o’-lanterns and waited for Saline Rec Center’s Sunshine Lambert to start the competition.
The object of the game was to be first to roll a pumpkin all the way to the bottom of the hill and across the finish line. The pumpkins were not rolled all at once. The crowd was divided into groups by age and by whether or not the pumpkin was carved. Most were carved.
The youngest competitors had some trouble staying on task, but were assisted by adult companions. The oldest competitors were so aggressive that they seemed to mistake the pumpkins for soccer balls. Few of these pumpkins made it to the bottom intact.
To supplement the rolling fun, the Rec Center brought a pumpkin launcher built a few years ago by Brian Corkman. It was made of recycled materials and looked like a giant slingshot. Many children and adults tried to launch pumpkins or parts of pumpkins into the woods and a few succeeded.
When the rolling and launching was over, the pumpkins and fragments thereof were gathered and hauled off to the city composting site for their final act. The human participants enjoyed cider along with donuts, sweet rolls, and pretzels from Benny’s Bakery.
“It’s like a ceremonial divide to say goodbye to your treasured piece of art,” said Lambert. “Some kids are very sad to see their pumpkins go, so it’s a cool way to say goodbye to it and to the Halloween season.”
The event is held early in the morning, the first Saturday after Halloween, so that each family can happily depart to enjoy the rest of their day and the start of a new season. By 9:30 a.m. most families had already left.