Punkin’ chunkin’: Teams launch pumpkins into St. Lawrence River

CLAYTON, N.Y. (WWTI) — The Punkin’ Chunkin’ is an annual event centered around launching pumpkins into the St. Lawrence River and attracts enormous crowds in Clayton. Like many other events, it was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic, but organizers are excited to welcome people back this year.

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David Neuroth, a Rotarian and Punkin’ Chunkin’ volunteer, says the event started approximately eight years ago when local citizens wanted to plan something fun for the community. Organizers of the event were expecting up to 300 people, but at least 2,000 attended.

Along with the main event, there were street vendors, a barbecue, and other activities. Adult teams joined six youth teams from North Country schools to participate this year, competing to see who could launch their pumpkin furthest. Neuroth said they want to give kids “a sense of community and responsibility.”

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Each youth team collects food for the food bank, which is weighed prior to the event. The weight of the food is multiplied by the distance their pumpkin travels during the launch, giving them their final score.

Juliana Richardson, a student and Punkin’ Chunkin’ volunteer, said it’s nice to give back while having fun. Money raised during the event is donated to local food pantries. Donna Chatterton, Director of Gwen’s Food Pantry in LaFargeville, said they receive many extra items thanks to the event and monetary donations allow them to purchase extra toiletries.

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Neuroth said the event has raised approximately 35,000 pounds of food over the last six years. This year’s event starts at 11 a.m. on October 16 on the Riverwalk in Clayton.

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