Your decomposing pumpkin could threaten mankind

This weekend, watch for falling pumpkins.
I left the house this morning and made an important realization: What I had assumed was a fleece-lined, bright orange sweatshirt laying crumpled on the front steps was actually NOT a garment at all.

It was our jack-o-lantern.

This realization was made while attempting to pick it up. Though my intention was to give my children a stern lecture on taking care of their clothing, I decided instead to scream uncontrollably after grabbing a handful of pumpkin mucus. Somehow, our pumpkin’s aging process had accelerated, causing it to collapse in on itself and sprout white fur — literally — overnight.

This isn’t an isolated incident. Anyone who hasn’t disposed of their jack-o-lantern by now has witnessed this process, which we can all agree defies the natural laws of physics. One morning, your pumpkin’s face is triangle-eyed and gap-toothed as normal. The next morning, it is Buddy Hackett.

Should the process be allowed to continue, there’s a chance your pumpkin will actually collapse so far in on itself it will create its own gravitational pull and eventually threaten the space-time continuum. To avoid a cataclysmic event ushering in the return of bell-bottom pants, you have a responsibility to the rest of us to dispose of your gourd immediately, even if it means scraping it up with a shovel and transporting it to a government facility.

However, for those of you who remember to dispose of your pumpkin before it contains enough organic matter to become self-aware, you have another option, which is to drive to Milton, Delaware for the annual “Punkin Chunkin World Championships.” There, you will find the kind of excitement one can only get from jettisoning a large gourd as far as possible without the aid of rocket fuel.

The annual event, which has taken place each year since 1986, got started the way a lot of sporting competitions do: by having two men argue over who can throw something the farthest.

In this case, an anvil.

Fortunately, fate (most likely, in the form of a pulled groin muscle) intervened, and Punkin Chunkin was born. In a nutshell, participants use catapults, air cannons and oversized slingshots to hurl large pumpkins over great distances. Last year, Bruce Bradford’s winning toss set a new world’s record but, tragically, took the life of an Amish man during a barn raising in nearby Pennsylvania.

The good news is, Punkin Chunkin is catching on across the U.S.
Soon, you may not have to drive as far as Delaware to chunk your pumpkin! The bad news is, because of growing popularity, you could, at this very moment, be standing in a Punkin Chunkin drop zone. This is similar to standing in a golf course drop zone, except, in this case, no one will be yelling “FORE!” before you get hammered with a 10-pound gourd traveling in excess of 60 mph.

Just to be safe, I would avoid going outside until the competition officially ends this weekend. Assuming, of course, there isn’t a sudden shift in the space-time continuum.

In the event that happens and I find myself wearing checkered bell-bottoms, I ask that you please direct me to the nearest Punkin Chunkin drop zone.

(You can write to Ned Hickson at, or at the Siuslaw News at P.O. Box 10, Florence, OR 97439.)


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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

8 thoughts on “Your decomposing pumpkin could threaten mankind”

  1. Us humans just love to chuck stuff. In England, they indulge in welly wanging – to wang a welly (wellington boot/gumboot) is to chuck it as far as you can. He who throws the most, wins the most. It’s popular in NZ, too. Here in Australia, we throw toads. Actually, it’s more cruel than that – toad golf is common :s In our defence, they’re a menace to the environment and decimating the native frogs (toads are an introduced species)… so, swerving to run them over with your car, “racing” them (stick them in a bucket, turn it upside down – first toad to hop over the finish line, which is a circle around them wins… then loses) and basically batting them around the countryside is a sort of green/environmental thing to do. Chucking pumpkins sounds a lot more fun 🙂 (we eat pumpkins here… but different varieties that actually taste good!!)

    1. LOL! Yikes! If I’m ever reincarnated as a frog prince, remind me to stay away from Australia! I know it’s toads you’re after, but I’d rather play it safe 🙂 Thanks for stopping in, “Buffy.”

  2. I had that same terrible experience with my pumpkin. It really spoiled too fast. And then had hair growing out of its eyes. Now, i know to not carve my pumpkin two weeks before Halloween. 😉

  3. LoL — It sounds like yours turned into Wilford Brimley 🙂 My friend suggested I get a synthetic pumpkin, but no way. I have to keep my pumpkins and Christmas trees real, mucus and pine needles included 🙂

  4. It’s nice to know I’m not the only person who has had to dispose of her Halloween decorations with a shovel. Thank god Christmas wreaths don’t get moldy…one year we didn’t take ours down till after Memorial Day.

    1. LOL. I still have my flags up for July 4th. I was able to skate by for Veterans Day, but my neighbors are starting to question me now that Thanksgiving is approaching! Thanks so much for reading!

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