The ‘Great Pumpkin’ comes to Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital
Ray Barenchi Jr. says goodbye to the 802 pound Atlantic Giant pumpkin he toted 429 miles from his father’s backyard in Santa Rosa, California, to Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital.
What do you do with an 802-pound pumpkin? If you’re Ray Barenchi Sr. of Santa Rosa, California, you donate the giant orange sphere to Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital.
Mr. Barenchi is one of an elite group of pumpkin growers worldwide all clamoring to set a new record. At this year’s Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival in Northern California, the 84-year old pumpkin grower checked in with three mammoth entries: The 802-pound beauty he donated to Children’s Hospital, a 997-pound goliath, and a 691-pound behemoth.
After the contact, his son, Ray Barenchi Jr., of Lakewood, California, came up with the idea of donating the giant pumpkin to Children’s Hospital. “I was listening to the radiothon on KOLA 99.9 FM,” he explains. “The more I thought about it, the more I thought the kids at Children’s Hospital might enjoy it a lot.”
Mr. Barenchi notes that he’s going to propose that his dad raise a couple of the giant pumpkins specifically for Children’s Hospital next year. “In fact,” he continues, “I’d like to issue a challenge to other big pumpkin growers: Why not follow our lead and donate your giants to children’s hospitals in your part of the country next year?”
Melissa King, special events planner for the LLUCH Foundation, says she’s never seen any fruit or vegetable so large before in her life. “This thing is just incredible!” she exclaims. “We are so grateful to the Barenchi family for giving it to us. The kids are unbelievably excited!”
According to Pumpkin Nook, an Internet site devoted to the giant squashes, the world record pumpkin is a 1,689-pounder raised by Joe Jutras of North Scituate, Rhode Island. It won the title at the Topsfield Fair Giant Pumpkin Contest on September 29, 2007, beating out last year’s record holder by a whopping 187 pounds. However, Mr. Barenchi Jr. notes that there is a rumor circulating among the members of the pumpkin community that Mr. Jutras’ record was subsequently defeated by a grower in Australia, but as this issue of Today went to press, the story could not be confirmed on the Internet.
Looking at the 802-pound beauty outside the main entrance to LLUCH, it’s hard to imagine how a pumpkin could get bigger. This one measures 5’1” long by 5’ wide and 2’7” high. It would make an enormous pumpkin pie were it not for the fact that many toxic fertilizers are employed to increase the size of the orange monster.
By James Ponder