Sunshine Lambert went out to Mill Pond Park around dawn on Saturday morning to set up for the annual Pumpkin Roll. A doe and a fawn were there to greet her on the frost-covered hill where the event would take place.
It was the beginning of a very pretty fall day. Frost highlighted the green grass while the reds and golds of the season still glowed in the trees.
By the time the event was to start, over one hundred Salinians had arrived bearing bright orange pumpkins to add to the vibrant scene.
Saline Parks and Recreation Department holds a Pumpkin Roll each year. It is a fun family event that helps kids say goodbye to their jack-o-lanterns and allows parents to be good environmental stewards by committing the pumpkins to the compost pile.
Families lined up at the top of the hill and Lambert divided them into smaller groups to race down the slope pushing or kicking their pumpkins. There was a separate set of races for carved vs. intact pumpkins and these groupings were further divided according to age.
The youngest children, three and under, could receive help from parents, the rest were on their own. In each race, the one whose pumpkin first crossed the line at the bottom of the hill was declared the winner and received a prize from the prize bin.
It was not uncommon for the pumpkins to break apart during their trip down the hill, especially when they are carved and they are kicked. To win it was only necessary to get a piece of the pumpkin across the finish line.
The pumpkin launcher was set up again this year as well. Children could load their orange gourds into the giant slingshot and catapult them toward the woods.
Lambert organized the event, but received ample help in running it from members of the Saline Youth Council and the Saline High School National Honors Society. In addition to monitoring the races, these volunteers helped serve donuts and pretzels from Benny’s Bakery along with hot and cold cider.
At the end of the event, volunteers gathered the pumpkins and pumpkin fragments and loaded them into a pickup truck. Lambert said that the truck has never been so full in previous Pumpkin Rolls.
Another first was running out of donuts. In spite of an ample supply, Lambert did not have any bakery treats left over to bring back to the staff at the Rec Center. She expected that they would be disappointed.