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Pumpkin roll always a favorite at Saratoga Fall Festival

Pumpkin roll always a favorite at Saratoga Fall Festival

Awkward stem presents special challenge
Pumpkin roll always a favorite at Saratoga Fall Festival
Children roll their pumpkins down Caroline Street during the Fall Festival in Saratoga Springs on Saturday.
Photographer: Erica Miller

Superheros and villains. Cats and dogs. Cinderella. Dorothy. Sasquatch and astronauts. In downtown Saratoga Springs on Saturday, they could all be found chasing pumpkins down Caroline Street.

A perennial favorite at Saratoga’s fall festival, the pumpkin roll matches the not-so-aerodynamic physics of a small pie pumpkin — the awkward stem presents a special challenge — with the foot speed of toddlers and youngsters outfitted for Halloween.

“Ready, set, go,” a volunteered shouted, letting loose a parade of rolling pumpkins. As the kids chased their pumpkins down the streets, they weaved and bobbed to avoid one another, occasionally swapping pumpkins mid-race, and sometimes swapping back.

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The first pumpkin to reach the bottom of the hill that runs from Broadway down Caroline Street to a wall of hay bales won.

“I want to go again,” a winner dressed as a Sasquatch hunter — his shirt said “Sasquatch hunter” and he carried a belt of tools — said as soon as he reached the bottom of the course. “Mr. Pumpkin. Mr. Pumpkin,” another shouted as he chased his pumpkin down the street, possibly encouraging it to roll faster, possibly calling on it to slow down and wait for him.

Other participants were also interested in the costumes of neighboring pumpkin rollers.

Arthur Day, 4, was dressed as a black cat from head to toe — “Because I like kitties,” he said. So was someone else he noticed in the pumpkin roll.

“You know what I saw? A cat boy,” Arthur said, spotting a fellow feline friend chasing a pumpkin down the street. “I like him.”

Sami Bush, a 2-year-old dressed as Dorothy from "The Wizard of Oz," chased her pumpkin in shiny red shoes flecked with sparkles. She sported a blue plaid dress and weaved across the street, trying to follow the route of her pumpkin — or maybe the pumpkin of another young runner.

But after the gourds had all stopped in the gutters or crashed into a barrier of bales marking the end of the race, Sami shyly rebuffed questions in her post-game interview. What was she doing for Halloween? Who would she dress as? What color was her pumpkin?

“Did you push the pumpkin down the hill,” Amy Bush asked her girl.

The thought of shoving the little pumpkin down the big hill: that’s all it took to crack a smile.

“Yeah,” Sami answered as they walked back to the start line.

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