With fall in full swing, people all around the world have begun sharing their favorite traditions and celebrations. Wearing wimples, wigs and even a shark head, Belgians hopped into giant floating pumpkins to take part in a relay race across a pond on Sunday, Oct. 23 — resurrecting an annual tradition halted by the COVID pandemic.
To win the regatta, teams of four had to be first to race round a hut in the middle of the pond in the northern town of Kasterlee, before driving their paddles into a hollowed-out pumpkin on the opposing shore.
“In the early years, around the year 2000, the heaviest pumpkins we could grow weighed around 400 kilograms, now we have reached a maximum weight of around 1,000 kilograms. These pumpkins are too heavy to use as a boat and we are having more and more of them. So actually we have fewer and fewer pumpkins that can be used as a boat. That might be a problem in the coming years,” President of Kasterlee’s Pumpkin Society, Paul Boonen, said.
Organizers said the event began as a way of putting the oversized vegetables grown for competitions to good use but that they had been a victim of their own success — many are now too big.
“We have fewer and fewer pumpkins that can be used as a boat. That might be a problem in the coming years,” the president of the Kasterlee Pumpkin Society, Paul Boonen, told Reuters.
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The flesh is hollowed out of the giant winter squashes in the morning and turned into soup before the main races – split into children’s, women’s, men’s and mixed competitions.
This year, the race was fully booked in three days with 65 teams of four people signing up — some of whom had travelled specially to take part.
“It’s dirty, it’s sticky, it’s oily and you have the feeling that you may be in the water anytime,” said Spanish-born Oscar Guell, 36, who traveled from Brussels to partake in the celebration.
By Reuters. (Production: Bart Biesemans, Charlotte Van Campenhout, Johnny Cotton)