Not sure what to do with your jack o’ lantern after Halloween night? If your answer is yes, chances are good you’re not alone. There are probably many people in your community who are left wondering what to do with that grinning orange face once the candle within has burned out and the shell’s begun to wither. Hold a smashing pumpkin fundraiser in the week or so after Halloween, and help make disposal easy.pumpkin destruction

This type of event is a fun (and messy!) way to be done with that aging jack o’ lantern once and for all while raising money for your charitable organization. You’ll need access to an open space (preferably outdoors, such as a large field or an open section at a local apple orchard or pumpkin farm), a large, rugged tarp, a table or two and some chairs, and some instruments of pumpkin destruction – a regular metal claw hammer or a sledgehammer. Ask a local contractor if they’d be willing to donate the use of a cherry picker or a bucket truck. Be sure to have buckets, scoops and shovels handy for cleanup afterward. Don’t wear your best clothes to this event!

Prior to the event, make arrangements with your local or regional yard waste or composting facility to accept the pumpkin remains – this will let you dispose of the remains responsibly and help to make more compost available to future gardeners.

Advertise your event throughout the community, inviting people to bring their jack o’ lanterns. If your location is a pumpkin farm or an apple orchard that also grows and sells pumpkins, you could set up additional tables for on-the-spot pumpkin decorating (don’t forget to bring the markers!) for a nominal added fee – chances are good that the farm will still have some unsellable pumpkins still on the ground.

Spread out the tarp and secure it as best you can with heavy weights such as rocks, bricks or blocks, etc. If you were able to obtain the use of a cherry picker or bucket truck, be sure to get the equipment in place over the tarp.

Arrange for guests to stop first at the table as they arrive with their pumpkins, and station volunteers there to examine each pumpkin and remove any wax candle stumps or pieces, non-organic decorations, and lingering pumpkin seeds. Make sure the table is far enough away from the tarp to avoid being part of the mess! The registration table is a good place to collect entry fees.

You can add to the fun atmosphere as well as your fundraising ability with a Chinese auction. Guests who arrive early can put their ugliest, best-looking or most creative jack o’ lanterns on display. Have raffle tickets with detachable stubs available for purchase at the registration table, and be sure to set up bowls, coffee cans or buckets in front of the competing pumpkins and offer a small prize for the winner(s).

Be sure to establish a cleanup crew ahead of time to collect the smashed pumpkin pieces (large, sturdy plastic tote bins and shovels are key here) and transport the remains to the composting facility as soon as possible if representatives from the facility were unable to join you.

Lucinda Rowlands
Lucinda Rowlands

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