6 things to do with pumpkins in Chicago


Carving that same old jack-o-lantern can start to get a little old, so check out our picks for alternative pumpkin activities.


Smash them

To be fair, this one's more like "watch pumpkins get smashed." The ever-so-creepy "Pumpkin Executioner" ceremonially demolishes one pumpkin every half-hour, and he's got a whole scary routine to go along with it. Just try not to picture a guillotine while you're watching.

Creatures of the Night

  • Brookfield Zoo
  • First Avenue between Ogden Avenue and 31st Street, Brookfield
  • Oct. 12-28, Friday-Sunday, 6:30-10:30 p.m.
  • (708) 688-8000
  • czs.org


Set a world record with them

You can spice up pumpkin carving by heading to the Great Highwood Pumpkin Fest, where they're planning to make pumpkin-carving history. Last year, the 30,919 lit pumpkins broke the Guinness World Record, and they're hoping to one-up themselves in 2012. Bring your own carved pumpkin or carve a pre-scooped one at the fest.

Great Highwood Pumpkin Fest


Roll them

Pumpkin rolling might seem like the ultimate lazy person's competition, but we have a feeling it's harder than it sounds. Try to pick out a perfectly round pumpkin, then see how far it goes with just one roll. Each roll is only $1 (and benefits the local Boy Scout troop), so we'll understand if you try over and over and over.


  • 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Oct. 20.
  • Batavia Riverwalk, Batavia
  • (630) 879-5235
  • bataviaparks.org

Chuck them

If you get a rush from seeing a perfectly shaped pumpkin shattered into a million pieces, this event's for you-even though it's a long drive downstate. Adults and kids build machines to hurl pumpkins through the air, and then watch them come crashing down. Spectators are welcome, too, if you don't want to bother with physics.

Pumpkin Farm

  • $5 per vehicle
  • Gates open at 10 a.m. Oct. 20.
  • 16339 Springfield Road, Morton
  • (309) 266-5135
  • mortonmagnet.com

Swim with them

No, "swimming with the pumpkins" isn't some mob-style euphemism. It's literal, as in the Water Works' pool is filled with floating orange gourds, and kids 2-12 take turns paddling around with them.

The Water Works

  • $18, $12 pre-registration
  • 6-8 p.m. Oct. 25
  • Schaumburg Park District, 505 N. Springinsguth Road, Schaumburg
  • (847) 490-2505
  • parkfun.com

Hunt for them

Searching for hidden pumpkins using a GPS unit sounds like a challenge, but add in the cover of darkness and it seems extra-tough.

  • $16, $13 resident
  • 6:30-8 p.m. Oct. 27
  • Lincoln Marsh Natural Area
  • Harrison and Pierce avenues, Wheaton
  • (630) 871-2810
  • lincolnmarsh.org

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