Highwood “Jacks” the record books

Last week we featured a picture and story about the city of Highwood’s attempt to break the Guinness record for most lit Jack-o-lanterns. Today, Highwood officials have announced that they did it.

People from communities all over northern Illinois came together for four days, bringing pre-carved pumpkins or using pre-scooped pumpkins to carve at the festival. On Saturday, Oct. 22, 30,919 pumpkins were lit, breaking the record – previously held by the city of Boston – of 30,128 Jack-o-lanterns.

Over 30,000 people showed up at the 2nd Annual Great Pumpkin Fest, doubling the size of last year’s fest – which failed to break the record by almost 4,000 pumpkins.

“I’ve never seen a greater display of community spirit than I did during this festival,” said Highwood alderman Eric Falberg. “It’s certainly a feat to pull off, but every smiling face makes it 100 percent worth it.

Every local school was involved, as well as a nearby military base, philanthropic organizations and local businesses.

“When every pumpkin was lit and the street lights were shut off, the reaction of the crowd was worth every pumpkin’s weight in gold,” said Highwood mayor Charlie Pecaro. “The reaction of the awestruck crowd was at first a loud collective gasp, followed by a hush as they took it in, [then] wild applause celebrating the magnificent feat!”

The festival featured more than just Jack-o-lantern lighting. Other activities inlcuded a pumpkin pie eating contest, kids activity tent, carnival rides, carving stations, a petting zoo, a 5k and kids dash and a farmers market. Some people got to take their pumpkins home, the rest were composted. And the city officials say they are planning to do it again next year.

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