Justin Brooks, left, Burke Stoller, Tod Gilbert and Grant Belbin worked together to create a compressed air cannon that will fire pumpkins downrange in Nanaimo’s inaugural Great Pumpkin Toss event supporting Big Brothers and Big Sisters Central Vancouver Island and Nanaimo Science and Sustainability Society, Saturday, Nov. 9. (Photo submitted)

Justin Brooks, left, Burke Stoller, Tod Gilbert and Grant Belbin worked together to create a compressed air cannon that will fire pumpkins downrange in Nanaimo’s inaugural Great Pumpkin Toss event supporting Big Brothers and Big Sisters Central Vancouver Island and Nanaimo Science and Sustainability Society, Saturday, Nov. 9. (Photo submitted)

Organizers bringing heavy artillery to Nanaimo’s inaugural Great Pumpkin Toss

Trebuchet and air cannon will fire pumpkins to their final resting places in charity fundraiser

Jack-o’-lanterns will either get their final fling or go out with a bang when they get launched from a trebuchet and a compressed air cannon at the inaugural Great Pumpkin Toss this weekend.

The event, the brainchild of Stu Hopewell, chief operating officer of Alair Homes in Nanaimo, will happen in a field behind East Wellington Fire Department near Meadow Creek Community Park, located on Meadow Creek Road, and is a fundraiser supporting Nanaimo Science and Sustainability Society and Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Central Vancouver Island.

“If you can build a custom home, you can build a trebuchet,” said Hopewell, who created one of the devices that will launch pumpkins about 50 metres downrange, in a press release.

The pumpkin cannon, which operates on compressed air and resembles a giant potato gun, was created by Nanaimo Science and Sustainability Society board members and supporters, including Tod Gilbert, president of VMAC, manufacturer of vehicle mounted air compressor systems.

Participants can bring their pumpkins and, for a donation, choose whether they’d like their pumpkin fired or flung from the cannon or trebuchet, see how far downrange they fly and witness the spectacular results upon touchdown.

East Wellington Volunteer Fire Department is lending its support by supplying water and power for the event’s concession stand, run by NS3.

People are also encouraged to bring warm clothes to support a coat drive at the pumpkin toss, too.

“We hope to make a bit of money for these great organization and we really just want a good turnout,” said Jason Clayton, event marketer.

The organizers hope the inaugural Great Pumpkin Toss will grow into an annual tradition, possibly something similar to the Silly Boat Regatta, with multiple businesses and organizations entering teams with pumpkin launch devices they’ve created.

“We participate in a variety of events that raise money for local groups, but we wanted to do more so we decided to introduce our own event and create … the Alair Community Team,” Hopewell said in the release. “This is a dedicated group of Alair employees who are working to support and raise money for local groups. This is a result of their efforts.”

The Great Pumpkin Toss happens Saturday, Nov. 9, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

For more details and to watch live fire tests of the trebuchet and pumpkin cannon, visit Alair Homes’ Facebook page.



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