The invitation was for the First Annual Pumpkin Demolition Derby. My friends Amy and Scott had invited us to attend a backyard competition that looked like a cross between a techno-nerdy robot war and a Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome cage match. The idea was for two competitors to each send a pumpkin down opposing ramps and to allow the pumpkins to smash into each other. The pumpkin with the least damage would win and move on to the next match. Sounds simple…..right? But here was the catch: the pumpkins could ride in or be held in any vehicle or contraption that the competitors could envision and build. Plus the invitation encouraged vehement trash talk, and of course, the bribing of the judges.
Not long after reading the invitation, my husband was digging through the basement for old skateboards and outgrown rollerblades and he had various sharp and pointy objects, including kitchen knives, saws, and screwdrivers spread around his work space. I could see his creative AND violent wheels spinning as he thought of dangerous designs for his pumpkin vehicle.
Now if you know me, you know that I am a big fan of upcycling or repurposing. So using cast-off or outgrown toys and broken tools and building something new with them is right up my alley. But if you really know me, then you also know that I worry about safety….A LOT. And all those knives and saws were making me nervous……so I decided to enter the competition, but to take more of a Quaker-like approach. One pumpkin and five layers of bubble wrap and I was ready!
And that first year…..pacifism was KING! I took the first prize with my defense-only strategy and got to spout off about the evils of warfare for anyone who wanted to listen!
Over the years, the competitors came up with more creative ideas. We saw toy baby strollers head down the ramp, and well as disassembled lawn mowers, and even this disturbing fellow……….
But by that second year, the competitors who really wanted to win had worked out how to pimp truly dangerous pumpkin rides! And my bubble-wrap pumpkin TRIED in vain to defend her title……………
My boo-boo face in this photo of a younger and thinner me is fake, but the blade that was left behind in the pumpkin was real! (You may not see it easily in this photo, but there is a knife blade stuck there alright!…..oh the agony!)
Other competitors tried my peace-loving approach too, including my favorite, a pumpkin taped to a roller board with hand-written messages of anti-pumpkin violence…..messages like “Give Peas a Chance”….and “Make Love, Not Pie!”…..and “No Nukes” (with a drawing of a pumpkin-cooking microwave). Sadly, this pumpkin succumbed in the first round.
And the pumpkin named Pad-Boy, who was oh so cute and obviously a fan of all things sanitary, died an early death as well.
Here are a few of the many serious contenders:
Sadly, Amy and Scott moved far away and for us….the days of the pumpkin demolition derby passed away. I emailed her today to catch up, remembering good times and missing my funny and brave friend. After all, no one else would have hosted this event every year without liability insurance and waivers signed by the contestants. Cause did you see those spikes?……Yikes!!
As always, I encourage you all to be fans of peace and love. But if you need to wage war, let it be a pumpkin war…. one with plenty of violence but no real casualties! And you’ll have lots of pumpkin seeds to roast and enjoy when the competition is done. (But do get liability insurance and waivers….cause did you see those spikes?! Yikes!)
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