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Mundelein Park District’s Pumpkin Launch a smashing success


A compost pile should have dried leaves, straw and wood chips and nitrogen rich materials like grass clippings. Add kitchen scraps like egg shells, orange rinds, vegetable trimmings and coffee grounds. Avoid using meat, fats, grease, oils, dairy products, bone, dog droppings, lime or fireplace ashes. Pile in heaps of no more than 5 feet. Mix ingredients. Turn pile daily if stored outside for usable compost in two weeks. Turn every other day for compost in three weeks. Compost is ready to use when the pile is smaller and the color is dark brown.

Source: Mundelein Park District

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Updated: January 4, 2013 1:44AM

Jack-0-Lantern corpses and smithereens littered the lawn at Keith Mione Community Park in Mundelein on Sunday afternoon.

That’s because community members brought their pumpkins there to be smashed, either via baseball bat or launched with a catapult at Mundelein Park District’s Pumpkin Launch event.

“It gives the opportunity to people to go Monster Green after Halloween and recycle their pumpkins,” said park district spokeswoman Mary Priller. “The kids just love it. This is just so much fun.”

A total of 100-150 community members brought 75-100 pumpkins, Priller said. This year was the fourth year it was held. Attendees learn about composting and then get to destroy the pumpkins.

They can roll the pumpkins down the hill, whack them with a baseball bat, or launch them in one of two catapult machines.

Mundelein High School built the Big Red catapult four years ago for this event. Big Red can launch a 4-to 5-pound pumpkin about 100 yards, said Mundelein High physics teacher Mike Hickey.

It’s fun to use and teaches physics lessons. Physics student Anisa Rossi of Mundelein is a junior at MHS and is taking physics. She helped test Big Red in advance of the public’s arrival Sunday.

“Different (pumpkin) sizes have different effects. Carved pumpkins have more air in them because of the holes and drag backward. Heavier pumpkins means (Big Red) has to be set farther back, but larger is more momentum,” Anisa said.

She said it’s fun when the pumpkins splatter.

New this year was the TCP-Troop Pumpkin Chucker. Boy Scout Troop 388 built its own catapult. About 13 of the 30 troop members saw an online video and decided to build their own, according to scoutmaster Doug Coup.

“I think it’s cool that they got involved. It taught them teamwork plus a little engineering lesson,” Coup said.

They will bring TCP to their next camp out and lob objects other than pumpkins, he said.

Strictly speaking, TCP is a cross between a catapult and a trebuchet, according to Christian Loar, 12. The seventh-grader at Sandburg Middle School helped build it. A trebuchet uses weights and a slingshot to hurl projectiles. A catapult is spring-loaded and has a scoop to hold objects.

TCP has a sling. He said it was fun to build and test it.

“I think it’s good. It’s better than I thought, but smaller than Big Red,” Christian said.

The good part is watching the launch, according to Laurie Comilla and her daughters Grace, 8, and Alida, 7, of Libertyville.

“I want to see if any of them explode,” Alida said.

Mundelein Park District staff collect the smithereens and will send them to Prairie Crossing’s farm for composting.

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