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Turning Pointe seeks volunteers for annual Naperville Pumpkin Race on Oct. 29


Above / Heat by heat, as many as six pumpkin racers compete at the same time for a win—and to move ahead to participate in the final run for the ultimate victory during the fun and awareness raiser for Turning Pointe Autism Foundation. Engaging banter and play-by-play by officials add to the fun time planned to begin at noon Oct. 29. (PN File Photo)

Racers young and old and of all abilities soon will be launching decorated pumpkin “cars” down the racetrack for fun and glory at the 6th Annual Naperville Pumpkin Races. 

First, however, a large crew of volunteers is needed to help get the race underway. The event, held Sat., Oct. 29, near Moser Tower with the 72-bell carillon, adjacent to the Rotary Hill along the Riverwalk in Downtown Naperville, needs folks to help with morning set up and afternoon take down, registration, pit row and test track helpers. Individuals also are needed to serve as heat managers and course monitors during the races.

Volunteers are welcome to join the crew during various time slots available throughout race day, Oct. 29. (PN File Photo 2021)

“This race is all about fun for all,” noted Carrie Provenzale, Executive Director of Turning Pointe Autism Foundation, presenters of the race. “The race began as a vocational project for our adult students. Now, it’s become employment for our working adult employees who work all year assembling, packaging and shipping race kits to racers taking part in these events all over the country.”

Festivities begin at noon Sat., Oct. 29

Creativity and drama abound from the start as authentic pumpkins compete for best decorations as well as their speed and racing ability.  

A referee with a large mallet is known to test suspicious racers to be sure they are real pumpkins. Never, ever put wheels on a watermelon or a gourd, aiming to disguise it as a pumpkin. Be prepared to pass the smash test. (PN File Photo)

A costume contest is also open to all and Pinot’s Palette will offer a painting booth. Glowby the Bubbler will dazzle spectators with bubble tricks galore. 

A watermelon painted orange tried to pass as a pumpkin racer, but it didn’t pass the smash test. (PN File Photo)

Tasty treats, too

Food will be available by Relish Hot Dogs & Italian Beef Food Truck selling hot dogs, chili dogs, Italian beef and mac & cheese. Moose & Me, a Naperville bakery employing workers of all abilities, will sell treats as well.

Free pumpkins to create racers in advance of race day or on site

We Grow Dreams Nursery is donating pumpkins for individuals who choose to build out their racers on site on the day of the race.  Free pumpkins also will be available at the Water Street Fall Family Fest on October 22 along Water Street in Downtown Naperville.

Pumpkin racers wait to speed down the track in the Pumpkin Valet. That way, everybody can see the creative competition and also participate in activities planned at Rotary Hill. (PN File Photo)

Race participants can order race-approved race kits and complete instructions from Turning Pointe Autism Foundation online at turningpointeautismfoundation.org/pumpkin-race/.

Volunteer and/or sponsor for the fun of it

“This is a great sensory-friendly interactive event for all and a way for us to build awareness and new friends throughout the community,” added Provenzale. “Volunteers always enjoy the event as much as the racers do. It’s just a fun and funny day.”

To volunteer, visit turningpointeautismfoundation.org/sign-up-to-volunteer/.

The Naperville Pumpkin Race is sponsored in part by Gerald Cares, Assured Partners and a City of Naperville Special Events and Cultural Amenities Grant.

For more information about Turning Pointe Autism Foundation, visit turningpointautismfoundation.org.


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