Pumpkin drop to mark end of Halloween
BY KATLYN SMITH email@example.com | @Katlyn_eSmith October 30, 2013 5:41PM
Compost from Mundelein's annual Pumpkin Drop is used for a community garden. | Sun-Times files
& Recreation District’s Pumpkin Drop
When: 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 3
Where: Keith Mione Community Park, 1401 N. Midlothian Road
Info: (847) 566-0650 or Mundeleinparks.org
Updated: December 2, 2013 11:52AM
Big Red is back.
The trebuchet made by Mundelein High School physics students will send pumpkins exploding through the air at Keith Mione Community Park in what has become a quirky, after-Halloween tradition Sunday, Nov. 3.
The name of the event — the Pumpkin Drop — doesn’t really capture Big Red’s power. After a routine launch, Big Red hurls pumpkins a whopping 300 feet.
The crowd-pleaser also gives locals a free perk: an environmentally-friendly way to toss their stale jack-o’-lanterns.
After Big Red sends pumpkins over the park’s sled hill, participants will gather the remnants into large barrels. Then, park district staff will turn the debris into compost for a community garden on Keith Mione grounds.
In the spring, the fertilized area will be made available to green thumbs who can reserve individual plots.
The 3-year-old garden has already yielded tasty veggies, giant sunflowers and savory herbs.
“It has the thrill of the soaring and flying pumpkins, but it also brings home recycling and sustainability,” parks spokeswoman Mary Priller said of the annual drop.
The event is so famed that the National Recreational and Park Association awarded Mundelein an honor recognizing the drop’s popularity. Spectators even gather alongside the hill just to catch sight of the skyrocketing pumpkins.
Before the trebuchet blasts off, kids can send pumpkins rolling down the sled hill. Families also can smash pumpkins in a variety of games.
“They get to get rid of their pumpkins in a fun way,” parks Aquatics Supervisor Scott Anthony said. “Everyone would like to have their pumpkin thrown by Big Red.”
But only a lucky few can enter a competition to see which pumpkin lands the farthest from Big Red. The winner receives a prize.
The field is limited to 20 people who have already signed up in advance. But Anthony recommends registering in case someone fails to show up by visiting Mundeleinparks.org.
High school students built the device four years ago. Organizers say the event also boasts an educational component that demonstrates Big Red’s mechanics to kids.
On the surface, it’s simply fun to watch, Priller said.
“They really, really fly,” she said.