The Great Pumpkin Race comes to Princeton

Ladies and Gentlemen: Start your pumpkins?

PRINCETON – Pumpkins, pumpkins and more pumpkins will be racing soon in downtown Princeton.

The Princeton Optimist Club and Princeton Park District are partnering together to sponsor pumpkin races from noon to 3 p.m. Nov. 3, with the races beginning on Marion Street at the South Main Street intersection. That section of Marion Street will be blocked off, with the racing route going west about a half-block to the first alley.

Princeton Optimist member Dick Volker said this pumpkin race should be a fun experience for participants and spectators, who are encouraged to bring lawn chairs to watch the event.

“It’s sorta like a soap box derby but with pumpkins instead,” Volker said.

In explaining just how pumpkins can be raced, Volker said two rods are inserted through the pumpkin and then wheels, of any size, are attached to the rods. Racers may need a turn buckle or piece of wood to keep the pumpkin wheels going straight, he said.

To add to the fun, people are encouraged to decorate their pumpkins for the race. They can be carved out, or not carved. They can be big or little. They can be painted or glittered, adorned in hair and hats, fashioned in any theme.

Four pumpkins will compete in each heat of the race with the final winner receiving a prize. To add to the suspense, there could be some “cheater pumpkins” discovered along the way, Volker said.

To make sure the pumpkins get off to a good start, Optimist member Gary Moreland is building a ramp to give the pumpkin track a good incline. The race route will be lined on either side with corrugated fencing to keep the pumpkins on the track.

The great pumpkin race should be a fun adventure for individuals, families, businesses, churches and organizations, with the event open to anyone from throughout the area, not just Princeton, Volker said.

After watching a pumpkin race last year in Oswego, Volker said he brought back the idea to his fellow Optimist members and then partnered with the Princeton Park District to work out the details. Due to youth soccer and football games, the first available Saturday for the pumpkin race was Nov. 3. City officials have been very supportive of the pumpkin race.

To enter the pumpkin race, children under the age of 18 years are asked to bring a minimum of three cans of canned goods for the Tri-County Opportunities Council Food Pantry in Princeton. For adult racers, ages 18 and older, they will have a $25 entry fee. All proceeds from the entry charges will go to the food pantry, Volker said.

In addition to the pumpkin race itself, the Princeton Park District will also sponsor a pie contest and chili cook-off. Cotton candy and kettle corn will also be available.

For more rules and event information, contact the Bureau County Metro Center in Princeton.

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