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The pumpkins roll down Pearl Street
PumpkinPalooza crowd in an orange mood

By John Addyman
Patty Alena finds out her entry won the pumpkin roll.

   LYONS (Oct 22 11) -- Skies might have been gray but orange was the color of the day at the Third Annual PumpkinPalooza this afternoon.
   A ringer from Syracuse took a couple of minutes off work to win the pie-eating contest, a blue-eyed 4-year-old from Geneva demonstrated a set of pipes that could curl paint off a fire engine to grab first place in the screaming (pumpkin-calling) contest, and Patty Alena made a late selection -- but the right one -- to rotate to a big win in the pumpkin-rolling contest.
   If the number of booths, vendors, crafters, civic associations and families with their kids was any indication, this was the most successful PumpkinPalooza ever. It was hard to go anywhere and not see people having fun.
Olivia Molina won the screaming contest by decibels. 
   Highlight of the day is the annual pumpkin roll, where a front loader full of pumpkins (150 this year) is driven to the top of Pearl Street and, with much fanfare, dumped onto the street.
   In many towns in this great country of ours, that would not be exciting.
   But in Lyons, it's great fun. In years passed, spectators lining Pearl Street for The Roll found out that this is a participatory sport because pumpkins have a gourdlike affinity to veer off course and give bystanders a thrill they hadn't counted on.
   There's nothing like a 15-pound pumpkin coming your way at 15 miles an hour to get your attention in a hurry.
    The committee made some changes this year that diluted the drama a little but raised the safety quotient, adding snow fencing along the sides of the route to keep errant pumpkins from felling some of the residents. The drop zone was also changed to a spot higher on Pearl Street, ostensibly to give the pumpkins a little added inertia. That didn't work -- in fact, it slowed them down.
   Patty Alena's pumpkin made it down the street in rapid fashion.
   She chose wisely.
Hunter Arbogast (center) comes up for air in the pie-eating contest.

   "It was sitting there with a bunch of others at the grandstand," she said. "It was probably one of the last pumpkins to go into the running. I've been so busy today, I didn't get a chance to pick a pumpkin until the last minute."
   The bigger pumpkins had a hard time making it down the hill, breaking up as they accelerated and clogging the street for other pumpkins. But Patty's pumpkin, a smaller one left behind by others, had a will and a very round shape.
   Just before the pumpkin roll, things got loud in the park.
   In an event organizers might want to rename the "pumpkin-calling contest" next year -- because some of the voices could certainly move pumpkins in the field - the screaming contest got started off with a real surprise. Four-year-old Olivia Molina from Geneva stepped up to the microphone and let out a scream that had local merchants glancing quickly over their shoulders to see if their window glass was still intact.
   "She wanted to practice for this last night," explained Olivia's mom, who said Olivia got her talent from her father. "She has a natural ability," mom said.
   Nathan VanScoter of Syracuse won the pie-eating contest. He was working at the air-filled bouncy-house brought on-site by partycuse.com out of Syracuse. When the pie contest called for candidates, he stepped up, sat down, and dove into a pumpkin pie.
   "He was very systematic," said pie-eating contest coordinator Jessica Edgington. She sat 10 contestants for the contest, male and female, but VanScoter was a young man on a mission.
   "It was a big hit," Edgington said about the contest. "A lot of fun...and nobody got sick." The contestants were all seated at a picnic table, and people crowded in around them to watch the pies disappear. Edgington said next year the contest may be moved to the courthouse steps "where everyone could see better."
   Wiping away some left over pumpkin, VanScoter, who stood up at the end at the end of the contest with arms raised like Rocky Balboa, said the contest was "very filling."
   He had fun, people watching him had fun...everyone had fun.
   Two things were in abundance on Saturday in Lyons -- pumpkins...and smiles.


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