ROSEVILLE — Speaking into a megaphone, Bobbie Wilson gave the two-minute warning. “Get your pumpkins ready,” she said. “We’ll be starting soon.”
The 50 or so people who were not already perched at the top ran up the hill, while the families that were already there stood bundled in winter gear, wearing excited smiles and waiting for Wilson to give the OK to start.
For the 140 kids in attendance on Nov. 1 at Huron Park, the two minutes passed slowly. Many spent it practicing their kicks, then rolling down the hill themselves and racing back to the top to make sure they were with their pumpkins for the start.
Carl Durlock from the Roseville Optimist Club stood at the base of the hill with his camera ready. “You’ll want to snap as many as you can and then get out of the way,” he said, only half-jokingly.
Durlock knows the ropes here. He’s a member of the Roseville Optimist Club, and the club has been supporting the Rumblin’ Tumblin’ Pumpkin Rolldown since its inception nine years ago.
Shouting into her megaphone again, Wilson says it’s time to start, and in a matter of seconds, hundreds of pumpkins are stampeding down the hill. Some are rolled; some are thrown; and others are kicked. They break into pieces halfway down or tumble to the bottom where their respective owners race to get them, then run up the hill to give it another go.
“This is just simple, carefree fun,” Wilson said. “It’s a fun family night and a great way to get rid of your pumpkins.”
Wilson worked with the Optimist Club on the event after the city started noticing an increase in pumpkin-related vandalism incidents. Pumpkins were being stolen off porches and curbs, and smashed on the street in the days after Halloween.
“It created a lot of work for DPW,” Wilson said. “So we thought this would be a great way of disposing of pumpkins that would be fun for the community, reduce vandalism and be good for the environment.”
All the pieces of broken pumpkins are tossed in barrels and taken to the city’s compost site, where their already broken-up form helps them break down faster.
Volunteers from the community and members of the Optimist Club are on hand to help clean up any pieces left behind, but for the most part, everyone cleans up after themselves.
“Most of these pumpkins would end up in the garbage if it weren’t for this event,” said Mike Gaudio, a Roseville DPW employee. “The more people who participate, the better, because it actually helps us create more compost, which can in turn be used as a natural fertilizer.”
Roseville resident Darius Domineck and his family were one of the last on the hill. He stayed after most of the crowd had migrated over to the concession stand for free cider and doughnuts, picking up broken pumpkin pieces while his children played on the hill.
While Domineck dumps another few pieces in the collection barrel, his daughter — 9-year-old Summer Delong — is wearing a broad smile. “After this, I’ll be back every year,” she said.
It’s that type of reaction that the Optimist Club hopes to see each year. The club pays for the event and supplies, and hands out the cider, doughnuts and certificates of appreciation.
“We do this for the kids, that’s what Optimist clubs do,” said Maggie Rollinger, the 2011-12 president of the club. “Really, that’s all it takes to be an Optimist member — to be a member, you just have to love kids (and) want to be involved with kids in the community. Plus, it’s just fun to watch the kids throw their pumpkins down the hill.”
Optimists offer recreation scholarships
ROSEVILLE — Since 2005, the Roseville Optimist Club has donated $2,000 a year to Parks and Recreation for a scholarship program to enable underprivileged kids to participate in recreation sports and classes.
And this year is no different.
“The Optimist Club is a huge supporter of this department, and these scholarships are just one more way they have stepped up to help children in the community through the Recreation Department,” said Bobbi Wilson, assistant director at the Rec Center.
The scholarships are handed out every other month as new classes start, with the deadline to turn in applications for the next round of scholarships on Jan. 1. The new schedule of classes and activities will be available on the city website after Nov. 14.
Scholarships are limited to one per child per family each year. Families are required to show proof of hardship and provide a recommendation letter from a non-family member on the child’s behalf.
The scholarships cover the complete cost of a class, but not additional supplies needed.
Wilson offered an example.
“If a child receives a scholarship to play recreation basketball, it covers all the cost and fees associated with playing, but the black shorts that are required to play in are not covered,” she said.
For more information on Parks and Recreation scholarships, contact Bobbie Wilson at (586) 445-5480 or stop by the Rec Center from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The Roseville Recreation Center is located at 18185 Sycamore.