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All about pumpkins October 18, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Entertainment, Food Drinks News.

They’re orange, round and all the rage this time of year.

THE NAME > Pumpkins are gourds and got their name from the Greek word pepon, which means “large melon.” The French pronounced it “pompon,” which was later anglicized to “pumpion.” That led to “pumpkin” by European settlers in North America.

ORANGE ALL OVER > The pumpkin has a place in literature, films and television.

There’s the “Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater” nursery rhyme, and the Headless Horseman in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” whose noggin-less state was made a tad less gory with the addition of a pumpkin on his shoulders.

There’s Cinderella’s stagecoach that turns into a pumpkin at midnight and, of course, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”

There even was a 2002 film named simply “Pumpkin,” starring Christina Ricci.

LOCAL TWIST > Though no Michigan cities bear names with the word pumpkin in them, two in Indiana are called Pumpkin Center. But Michigan still celebrates its gourds.

Plymouth plans the Great Pumpkin Caper from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Oct. 30 in its downtown. Call 734-453-1540 for details.

Rochester has a pumpkin fest, too, set for 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Oct. 28. The city says it will have the largest display of lit pumpkins in Michigan and urges people to bring a carved pumpkin to add to the display, or buy one at the festival for $5 and work on it at a festival carving station. For more information, visit www.downtownrochestermi.comv or call 248-656-0060.

PUMPKIN LAUNCHING > Hurled a pumpkin lately?

Howell resident Bruce Bradford and his team of Punkin Chunkin aficionados were the world’s top gourd launchers in 2002, 2003 and 2005 and are to vie for the championship again Nov. 3-5 in Lewes, Del.

The 20-year-old World Championship Punkin Chunkin event draws thousands from around the country.

Last year, Bradford’s machine, dubbed the Second Amendment, shot a gourd 4,434.28 feet.

You can see Bradford’s team practice this weekend or next in Fowlerville, on Grand River Avenue just north of I-96. For details, go to www.secondamendmentgun.us/.

CARVE IT UP > Thank the Irish for the tradition of carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns. It comes from the legend of a man named Jack, who twice tricked the devil but was condemned to wander the darkness between heaven and hell. The story goes that he hollowed out a turnip, and a flame from the hellfire flickered inside his “Jack-o’-lantern” to light his way.

So on Halloween, Irish people hollowed out turnips and gourds, lighting them to ward off evil spirits and keep old Jack away. Pumpkins, being bigger and easier to carve, have become the gourd of choice.

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