New Hampshire Town Launches Pumpkin Flotilla Residents of the town of Goffstown, N.H., spend months every year growing giant pumpkins. But after a weigh-in, they turn the megagourds into boats for a race down the river.
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New Hampshire Town Launches Pumpkin Flotilla

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New Hampshire Town Launches Pumpkin Flotilla

New Hampshire Town Launches Pumpkin Flotilla

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This is DAY TO DAY from NPR News. I'm Alex Chadwick. Boo!


You scared me, really. I'm Madeleine Brand. Tonight, the Halloween celebration. Tomorrow, the clean up and what to do with that grinning rotting pumpkin. In Goffstown, New Hampshire, people there have come up with a solution. New Hampshire Public Radio's Amy Quinton reports.

Unidentified Man: Tell everybody that came in these boats we got to get them out.

Unidentified Woman: Okay, I'll get (unintelligible).

Unidentified Man: Okay, we'll get you right in. Bev, here we go.

AMY QUINTON: A green-faced witch wearing a black pointy hat is about to sit inside a giant pumpkin. The pumpkin, decorated and painted black with the top cut off and a small trolling motor attached, floats precariously on the chilly waters of the Piscataquog River.

Unidentified Man: Oh, Bev(ph), you've got to sign that.

Unidentified Woman: Oh, you look marvelous.

Ms. BEV POWDEN: I'm not signing a waiver; these are my witnesses.

QUINTON: This is Goffstown Resident Bev Powden's first pumpkin regatta.

Are you scared?

Ms. POWDEN: Well, yeah, look at the size of my pumpkin compared to everybody else's.

QUINTON: Her pumpkin is rather small compared to the seven other boats on the river. The pumpkins are piloted by a cast of characters - Little Red Riding Hood is sitting in a pumpkin decorated like the Big Bad Wolf.

There is a clown, who, by the way, is Goffstown's police chief, and Princess Leia and her X-Wing Fighter.

Ms. BARBARA GRIFFIN (Town Selectwoman, Goffstown, New Hampshire): Today, I'm driving an X-Wing Fighter because the forces of evil have grown close here in our community.

QUINTON: Princess Leah is town selectwoman Barbara Griffin. She is holding two huge water pistols.

Ms. GRIFFIN: Well, part of the fun is it is water and we will expect to get wet today.

QUINTON: Why do you do this?

Ms. GRIFFIN: Because no one else will.

Unidentified Man: The fuse is lit - the fuse is lit, are we ready? Hold your ears.

(Soundbite of cannon firing)

Mr. JIM BOSHMAN(ph) (New Hampshire Pumpkin Growers Association): All right. That's it. The 2006 Giant Pumpkin Regatta is underway. And they're we're off.

QUINTON: The creator the Pumpkin Regatta is giant pumpkin grower Jim Boshman with New Hampshire Pumpkin Growers Association and the MC of the race.

He says he created the pumpkin boat through trial and error.

Mr. BOSHMAN: They are like a fishing bobber floating, and it kept tipping over, tipping over I kept falling out. And I said I got to find a way to ballast this - to settle it in the water. In the bottom of mine I put a 100 pounds of sand in the boat, ballast it properly and you can't tip it over and they float. And we've gone from there.

All right they are jockeying for position come on up this way.

Unidentified Group: (Unintelligible).

QUINTON: The pumpkin boats slowly make their way maybe a 150 feet down river to the bridge in downtown Goffstown. Only one contestant didn't make it Princess Leia aka Goffstown selectwoman Barbara Griffin.

Tell me what happened.

Ms. GRIFFIN: The forces of evil were strong on the river. The warm-up was great. I was at the starting gate on time. And when the gun went off, my motor stopped.

QUINTON: Her pumpkin took on water as she was assisted out of the river. But despite that she says she'll participate in the regatta again. The winner: Rotary Club member John Hikel. He's dressed as a Rotarian.

For NPR News, I'm Amy Quinton.

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