Highwood, IL to attempt Guinness Record for most jack-o-lanterns lit in one location

There must be a thousand ways to break a Guinness World Record, and most are easier than this.

The city of Highwood, Illinois will light the night for Halloween this year. If all goes well, they will also end up in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most jack-o-lanterns lit in one location. To break the record, this little town of about 5,000 residents needs to beat Boston’s record of 30,128 pumpkins aglow in 2006.

Starting Wednesday October 20, 2010, thousands of volunteers will be carving, staging and lighting candles in pumpkins, culminating in a whopping 32,000 simultaneously-lit pumpkins for the record-breaking grand lighting at precisely 6:30 p.m. (central time) on Saturday October 23rd.

Pumpkin walls are already in place with tiered racks to hold the massive number of pumpkins. To qualify for the Guinness Book of World Records, all 32,000 must remain lit together for a minimum five-minute period.

Other concurrent events include an Evening Gourmet Farmers Market at Highwood’s City Hall Park, vendors selling antiques, live music, a haunted fun house, and of course, a pumpkin pie eating contest.

Pumpkin farmers from across the Midwest are bringing thousands of pumpkins and carving events are organized en masse at every school, religious and community organization and local military base in this area north of Chicago. The ghosts of all those pumpkins will be composted after the celebration.

The Highwood, Illinois festival is also dedicating Scout Park to the Boy Scouts of America and will have 100 Scout packs and troops, as well as veterans and local military on hand for three days of recognition, to raise awareness for Wounded Warrior Project. Highly motivated by this huge celebration, the local Scout troops are pitching in to carve 10,000 of the pumpkins required to beat the world record.

If you’re in the Chicago area and see a strange glow in the sky on October 23, besides the full moon, it just might be the Great Pumpkin victory, as Highwood, Illinois breaks the world record.

Helen Gallagher writes about business, technology, and travel for national consumer and trade publications. She is the author of Social Media Handbook and Release Your Writing: Book Publishing, Your Way! Read her blog on Red Room.

Fun filled fall activities at the pumpkin farm

Pumpkin farmers are a creative bunch of entrepreneurs. What used to be nothing more than a pumpkin patch with a small country store, has now evolved into a multi-million dollar entertainment industry.

Most pumpkin patches obviously still sell pumpkins, but they also offer enough entertainment to keep you and your family entertained for a couple of hours. At many of these farms, you’ll find kiddie rides, hay rides, corn cannons (a ton of fun!), fresh food, pick your own pumpkins and lots more.

Now the weather is just right for outdoor activities, load your kid(s) in the car, and head towards one of the 100’s of pumpkin farms. If you need help finding one, start at “Pumpkin Patches and More” where you’ll find a fantastic overview of all the current fun locations, along with their opening hours, directions and activities.

If at all possible, try going to one of these locations on a week day. Not only will the crowds be lighter, you’ll save on the price of attractions, as many locations offer unlimited ride passes for one low fee. Also, check out the web site of your local farm for coupons or other discounts.

Before you leave a pumpkin patch, be sure to make a stop in their farmstand as most locations sell fresh baked goods like cider apple doughnuts and of course an assortment of pies.

Carve a pumpkin, win a vacation

Head up to Cape Elizabeth, Maine to cut up a pumpkin, and you may wind up with a return trip. Inn by the Sea is taking the New England institution of pumpkin carving to a new level. Spend two nights or more at this resort in October, and you’ll be given a complementary pumpkin … along with the accoutrements for turning it into a frightening or masterful Jack O’Lantern. And, be sure to make some time to sip a cup of hot cider by the fireplace afterward.

At the end of the month, Inn by the Sea will choose the winner. The judges work from a blind photo array, awarding points for creativity, artistry and the all-important fun factor. In November, check the inn’s website for the winner. If it’s you, Inn by the Sea will credit all the expense from your trip back to you – regardless of what you spent or how long you stayed.

The Pumpkin Art package includes two nights at the inn, breakfast for two each day at the Sea Glass restaurant and the pumpkin carving essentials. The rest, of course, is up to you!

Bored this weekend? Check out a pumpkin patch!

It is going to be surprisingly nice weather in parts of the country this weekend, so why not take advantage of it by heading out into the burbs to visit a pumpkin patch, corn maze or harvest festival?

Many of these events are held at local farms that started by selling pumpkins, and most of them have grown into mini theme parks. Some of the local farms around me have added carnival rides, ghost houses and even a small zoo with tigers and camels!

A handy way to find a local pumpkin event, is on this site where you’ll find all the locations sorted by state. If you are looking for a corn maze, then check out “The Maize” where they cover everything maze related.

One thing I did notice, is that most of these farms are not always cheap; some charge as much as $15 per person to get in, with even more for individual rides. But once you are sitting under the sun with an apple cider doughnut and fresh roasted corn, you’ll quickly forget that. Before heading to a farm, be sure to check their web site for discounts as many of them offer a couple of dollars off the admission if you print a coupon or sign up for their mailing list.

Got a favorite farm or corn maze? Tell everyone about it in the comments!

Naked Pumpkin Run

When my friends start emailing me links like this or suggest I take a good gander at the Naked Pumpkin Run I start to wonder what kind of person they think I am. Sure, I’ve zipped through Monteverde’s cloud forest and bathed in Ibiza’s waters nude, but what would possess someone to think that I might find comfort, enjoyment or even an exhilarating time in running nude with a pumpkin atop of my head? And who comes up with these things? I won’t front, after reviewing the site, the run which takes place annually in Boulder, CO and in other locations; I thought for a moment that it could be a cool thing to do. Then I realized the streaking part might be fun, but I don’t think I could tolerate the pumpkin on my face. Let me stop here before all of you out there reading start to develop ideas too. This year’s events have passed, but if my short blurb managed to strike a little interest start planning for 2007. Go check out their website now.