Pumpkin launch attracts crowd despite rain

It was raining cats and pumpkins.

Regardless of the cold, rain and hail, six teams dueling in the pumpkin launch competition drew a crowd and produced a winner Saturday afternoon.

Sponsored by the City of Bloomington’s Parks and Recreations Department, the launch was at the Hilltop Garden and Native Center, 2301 E. 10th St.

“The weather hurt us, but I am pleased with the turnout,” said Bill Ream, Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department community events coordinator.

The six teams included the Pumpkin Avengers, the Fahrfunflinger, the Big Pumpkin Gun, the Washington Hatchet Engineers, Chuck-n-Duck and the Tetanus Express.

Battling for the farthest distance and most accurate hit, each pumpkin launching team had the golden pumpkin trophy on their minds.

The winners of the farthest distance launched were divided into a student group and an adult group.

Jay Nuloff is a teacher and adviser of the Washington Hatchet Engineers club from Washington High School.

The launcher built by the Tetanus Express, the winner of last year’s event, was the same machine used in last year’s launch but with about 380 pounds added to it.
“It was built in a month, plus another 100 hours of tinkering,” said Brian Alano, one of the members of the group.

In the accuracy category, the launchers aimed at multiple scarecrows positioned across the field. Whichever team launched their pumpkin the closest was judged winner.

The Fahrfunflinger team, from Chesterton, Ind., travels across the Midwest
competing in pumpkin launching events.

“We went to a pumpkin launch in Morton, Ill., to see what it was about nine years ago and have been competing since,” Ric Franke-Polz said.

This year was team Fahrfunflinger’s third time in the Bloomington pumpkin launch, and they have the record of 660 feet in the distance category.

The wives of the builders were the ones who convinced Franke-Polz and Jim Murray to build their pumpkin launch machine, said Ric’s wife, Laurie Franke-Polz.

“This is what engineers do when they are bored in the summer,” Kari Murray said.


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