Neil Nelson, of Rogers Trucking and Landscaping, loads up the Alair Homes air cannon, at a Nanaimo Child Development Centre fundraiser Nov. 6. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)

Neil Nelson, of Rogers Trucking and Landscaping, loads up the Alair Homes air cannon, at a Nanaimo Child Development Centre fundraiser Nov. 6. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)

Smashed pumpkins part of Nanaimo Child Development Centre fundraiser

Jack-o’-lanterns disposed of through air cannons at field near East Wellington fire hall

Pumpkin projectiles flew threw the air today, all in benefit of Nanaimo Child Development Centre.

As part of the Great Pumpkin Toss on Saturday, Nov. 6, Alair Homes Nanaimo and VMAC brought specially built air cannons to a field adjacent to the fire hall in East Wellington, with money raised going to the centre. Kat Scott, organizer from Alair Homes, said the two companies have a friendly rivalry.

“Stu Hopewell (Alair Nanaimo chief operations officer) likes to be challenged and VMAC Air has challenged him,” said Scott. “They showed up a couple of years ago with a cannon, and we had trebuchet and theirs obviously went a lot further, so that challenged Stu to want to go bigger and better. So he and Brad Nelson … he’s a welder and he helped Stu build the cannon.”

With a cannon pitted against a catapult-like device last time, Tod Gilbert, VMAC president, said he was happy to see Hopewell and Alair bringing a cannon to a cannon fight this year. VMAC’s cannon is powered by one of its compressors made in Nanaimo, he said.

“Alair put together a really amazing trebuchet [in 2019], which was neat to see and we came with the air cannon and managed to shoot it a little bit further, so I was quite happy to see this year, Alair show up with another cannon, so we’ve got some real competition this year,” said Gilbert.

Dominic Rockall, Nanaimo Child Development Centre executive director, said raising money has been difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic and was happy to see the pumpkins flying through the air.

“A lot of our fundraising comes from fundraising events, so all the events were cancelled [and] we lost a ton of revenue due to the pandemic and so events like this … it’s fantastic, it’s great,” said Rockall. “It’s always great to have funds raised in a way that’s so much fun for everybody. Brings everybody together, brings families out and it’s great to see.”

Scott said there wasn’t a fundraising goal, but hoped to raise $1,000. Pumpkins were gathered from across the Island, she said.

“Funny thing is, this year there was a shortage of pumpkins across the Island,” said Scott. “We had drivers going to Victoria to pick them up and Comox, anywhere we could to pick up the pumpkins.”

Nanaimo Science was also on hand with a display and activities for children.

RELATED: Man cycles up and down street to benefit Nanaimo Child Development Centre



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