Great Pumpkin Race returns to Niles

Published 9:32 am Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Leader file photo Children let their pumpkin racers go during last year's Optimist Great Pumpkin Race.

Leader file photo
Children let their pumpkin racers go during last year’s Optimist Great Pumpkin Race.

Saturday afternoon, the hill near the Niles-Buchanan YMCA will likely be filled with ghosts, goblins, Power Rangers, Ninja Turtles, princesses and furry friends — and pumpkins that match them.

The Niles Noon Optimist Club has once again teamed up with the Niles-Buchanan YMCA to offer the Great Pumpkin Race, an opportunity for youth to race decorated pumpkins and win trophies.

Children interested may register beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Niles-Buchanan YMCA, located at 905 North Front St., in Niles. In order to race, pumpkins must have wheels on and be ready to roll by 1:30 p.m. The races begin at 2 p.m.

New this year, participants can either pay $5 per racecar (pumpkin), or they can opt to bring five canned good items.

If participants do not already have axles and wheels, limited kits are available for pickup at the YMCA and Niles District Library for $10. Participants must provide their own pumpkins.

Also at 1:30, Pat, the Optimist witch, will judge which pumpkins are worthy of a trophy. Prizes will be awarded in the categories of:

• Pumpkin only a mother could love

• Best engineered

• Scariest

• Cutest

• Coordination stars (pumpkin, driver and pit crew all carry out a theme

• Race winners

Racers must be made using only one pumpkin (gourds and watermelon are not allowed.

A minimum of two independent axles and wheels must be used on each pumpkin. No caster wheels will be permitted.

Pumpkins may not be attached to pre-fabricated castes (office chairs, Tonka trucks, skateboards, etc.)

No explosives or jet engines will be permitted.

During the race, racers will not be permitted to push or help their pumpkins along, and they will not be allowed to chase their pumpkins down the raceway.

All proceeds raised at the pumpkin race will benefit local children through programs like youth soccer,, Relay for Life, Big Brothers Big Sisters and scholarships.