by Stormy on October 14, 2006
Bombs away! The year it got dangerous!
PumpkinFest always starts out quietly. The day before the competing teams bring in their gear and set up. Vendor booths are put up. Even early on the morning of the event DeLaney Farm is quiet suburbia, perfectly inconspicuous across the street from the Aurora Municipal Center in downtown Aurora, but then the quiet is disturbed by the blast of a cannon and the splattering of a pumpkin just short of the Centre Hills Golf Course's driving range fence. The party is about to begin!
The energy and activity pick up quickly. Vendor booths open, the live music begins, a hay ride wagon pulls out for a spin through the Tollgate Creek wilderness. The crowd grows to thousands in a matter of minutes. It's time for Aurora's PumpkinFest!
This year the fest was different. The good guys got bombed. I figured I'd take an opportunity to hang out with the Aurora Rangers on the far end of the pumpkin launching range to chat and help with crowd control. Inadvertently, every year, a handful of tourists decides to cross in the line of fire. Keeping them out of harm's way is an important job.
Today Ranger Justin and Ranger Tony pulled the coveted duty of keeping the Darwin Award candidates off the firing range. I hung out with them to listen to their stories and watch the far flung pumpkins sail by. It's incredible how many manage to make it out this far, a quarter of a mile out. A handful keep on going, crossing onto the golf course property and making the golfers cringe.
This year we almost faced tragedy. Ranger Justin and I were on the north side of the range when we saw a pumpkin sail through the air, off course, and Ranger Tony leaping off his four wheeler, running for cover. We rushed over there and sure enough, a badly aimed shot placed a pumpkin right along the fence line, hitting just three feet in front of Ranger Tony's vehicle. Ranger Tony got lucky. His ride was covered with squash rinds and slimed with pulp! Talk about getting lucky and out of the way in time!
Everyone was okay, although the near miss caused a lot of commotion and attention.