If you were walking downtown on Mill Street under the overpass this Saturday, October 30, you might have seen a large crowd of children and adults holding personalized pumpkins with wheels.
It was Carbondale’s annual pumpkin run and costume parade. The annual event allows people of all ages to compete, to see who has the best designed and fastest pumpkins. On Saturday mornings, the townspeople gather at Mill Street where they race their pumpkins up the hill as the first wins. The winner with the fastest pumpkin in the standard pumpkin race receives a trophy and a prize of $ 100, but there is also the Mayor Branding Grand Prix where the pumpkin with the fastest time wins a cash prize of $ 250.
Even though it was a cold and cloudy fall morning, the race was packed with community members wearing Halloween costumes. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, last year’s festivities had to be canceled. People were thrilled to be back this year, competing with their neighbors. The pandemic has taken its toll on everyone over the past year and a half and people are starting to feel comfortable with large crowds again. No matter the weather, people always look forward to a sense of community.
Even though this event is designed to be a family event, some are trying to take advantage and cheat, according to Marcia Sinnott, organizer of the event, since 2013.
“In the case of a cheating pumpkin, Saluki alum and two-time Olympian DeAnna Price with her big ‘Hammer of Justice’ will smash the pumpkin,” Sinnot said.
Many pumpkins were crushed throughout the day; some participants were not pumpkins, but watermelons. Other entrants weren’t interested in winning and just wanted their pumpkins broken. Much of the race was the crashing of the pumpkins as the kids all chanted “Smash it, smash it!” just before Price crushes him and the pumpkin guts splash the kids who applaud with excitement.
The race was packed with local celebrities like Price, Judge Diane Daugherty, who hosted the event; and Miss Illinois Isabelle Hanson, who has been given the job of “great pumpkin harvester”. The audience loved the special guests who brought a charismatic and fun spectacle to the streets. There were a lot of large pumpkins that were run that day, but the winner was a family with their mummy-themed pumpkin that took home the trophy and received the $ 100 prize.
The Great Pumpkin Race brings the community together as a Carbondale tradition. This will continue to bring the community together as they come up with creative and fun pumpkin ideas that they rival with friends, family and organizations. Attendance and participants increase every year, and with more special guests making appearances, the future looks bright for the Great Pumpkin Race.
Staff photographer Julian Castillo can be contacted at @julcastillophotographie. To stay up to date with all your southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.