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updated: 11/3/2013 6:58 PM

Hundreds turn out for Mundelein's Pumpkin Drop

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  • Mundelein High School physics teacher Mike Hickey marks the landing of the first pumpkin a couple of feet from the catapult after it went straight up after launch Sunday during Mundelein's 6th annual Pumpkin Drop Sunday at Keith Mione Community Park. Families brought their Halloween pumpkins to the event where they were bashed, rolled and flung with a catapult.

       Mundelein High School physics teacher Mike Hickey marks the landing of the first pumpkin a couple of feet from the catapult after it went straight up after launch Sunday during Mundelein's 6th annual Pumpkin Drop Sunday at Keith Mione Community Park. Families brought their Halloween pumpkins to the event where they were bashed, rolled and flung with a catapult.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Five-year-old Elsa Heyer bashes a pumpkin with a bat Sunday during Mundelein's 6th annual Pumpkin Drop at Keith Mione Community Park. Families brought their Halloween pumpkins to the event where they were bashed, rolled and flung with a catapult.

       Five-year-old Elsa Heyer bashes a pumpkin with a bat Sunday during Mundelein's 6th annual Pumpkin Drop at Keith Mione Community Park. Families brought their Halloween pumpkins to the event where they were bashed, rolled and flung with a catapult.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Spectators watch the launch of another pumpkin by Big Red the catapult during Mundelein's 6th annual Pumpkin Drop Sunday at Keith Mione Community Park. Families brought their Halloween pumpkins to the event where they were bashed, rolled and flung with a catapult.

       Spectators watch the launch of another pumpkin by Big Red the catapult during Mundelein's 6th annual Pumpkin Drop Sunday at Keith Mione Community Park. Families brought their Halloween pumpkins to the event where they were bashed, rolled and flung with a catapult.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

 

If you felt the emptiness of a Sunday after without Bears football, you could have filled the void by watching pumpkins catapulted down a hill the length of a football field.

A crowd of hundreds gathered at Keith Mione Community Park on Sunday to see pumpkins launched by "Big Red," a 600-pound device reminiscent of something you might see on an oil field, during the 6th annual Pumpkin Drop.

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Mundelein Park and Recreation District spokeswoman Mary Priller said about 300 or 400 people attended the event, which seems to be growing in popularity.

"We kind of get a following much broader than Mundelein," Priller said. "Last year, we had a particular family that actually follows pumpkin catapulting. They were from down in the city.

"It's a great fun event," she added. "In fact, it's very hard when it's over to get them off the hill."

There is an educational component to the Pumpkin Drop as well. Prior to the catapulting, the district, in an effort to promote sustainability, handed out pamphlets on composting.

The event also featured a number of side activities involving pumpkins, including one in which kids had a chance to beat a pumpkin to a pulp with a baseball bat.

Among the first-timers at the event were Edna Hernandez of Round Lake and her 5-year-old son Nathan.

"I got one of the fliers and was thinking, 'Oh, my gosh, that sounds so cool!'" Hernandez said.

Also there was the event's founder, Nora T'Niemi, formerly of the park district. She said came up with the idea after finding herself wondering what to do with pumpkins after Halloween.

"I happened to be watching pumpkin chucking on cable and came up with this idea," she said.

She took her idea to Mundelein High School physics teacher Mike Hickey, asking him if he might be willing to make it part of a project. Students took over, designing and building the device now used to launch the pumpkins.

"It's wonderful," T'Niemi said. "I'm glad to see it continuing and so many people coming out and still enjoying it."

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