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Pumpkin races on a roll

PRINCETON — The second annual pumpkin races will soon be rollin’ in the streets.

The Princeton Park District and Princeton Optimist Club have come together once again to put on the family-fun event that will guarantee a smashing time.

Princeton Park Board member Dick Volker, who is also a member of the Optimist Club, is calling on people of all ages, from all over the county and beyond, to get their best picked pumpkins geared up for this year’s event.

“We just want this to be a great, fun event, the whole family can enjoy,” he said.

The event will be held from noon to 3 p.m. Oct. 26. Race tracks will be set-up in downtown Princeton, on the corner of Main and Marion streets, between the Clark House and Brandy’s Hallmark store.

The fee for the event is the same as last year. Participants under 18 years old are asked to bring and donate a minimum of three cans of nonperishable items for the local food pantry. Participants 18 years old and above will be charged $25 per racer pumpkin.

The races will be divided into two different age groups: Ages 3 to 17 and 18 and up.

Winning racers will compete in heats leading up to the grand championship race, where the final winner will receive a grand prize.

Volker said people can compete with friends, neighbors, classmates, business competitors or whoever.

“It’s just great family fun,” he said.

To keep the crowd entertained and cheering for more, “cheater pumpkins” will secretly be slipped into the race. When the referee inspects each pumpkin to make sure it meets the qualifications for the race and comes upon a “cheater pumpkin,” he will blow the whistle, point out the cheater to the crowd and the crowd will yell, “Smash it!”

A police officer will then take the pumpkin to the center of the crowd and smash it with his handy mallet.

To make the event even more enjoying, kids are encouraged to dress up in their Halloween costumes.

For rules or more information on the event, stop by the Bureau County Metro Center.

For participants who are in need of axles and wheels to assemble their pumpkin racer, call 815-303-8396.

Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.

How to build a pumpkin racer

1. Once it's determined which way the pumpkin will sit upon its wheels, insert the first axle through the pumpkin. With assistance, push the axle through the pumpkin, or use a drill to help create the holes for the axle. Keep in mind when choosing where to place the axle, that the pumpkin will have to sit-up off the ground in order to roll properly.

2. Install the wheels by threading a nut onto the axle. Follow with a split washer, then the wheel, then a second split washer and a second nut. Repeat the same on the opposite wheel. After assembly, the width of the wheels can be adjusted by moving the nuts and washers to where they seem to fit best.

3. Repeat this process when installing the second axle. Keep the axles parallel in order to make the racer roll as straight as possible.

4. The final step is to decorate the pumpkin race. The more creative, the better.

5. Don't forget: no cheating or the racer will be smashed!

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