Pumpkins can grow into gargantuan behemoths, some easily fitting one or two full-grown adults. And all around the world, pumpkins are carved and pitted not to make jack-o-lanterns or pumpkin pies, but to carry people in squash gourd boat races.  

In the video of last year’s Windsor Pumpkin Regatta in Nova Scotia, competitors paddled their brightly colored pumpkin artworks in a 20-minute journey across Lake Pesaquid. Boaters decorate their vessels and dress up in the spirit of Halloween, trying with all their might to stay afloat. The bulky pumpkins, which can weigh over 600 pounds and reach 12 feet in circumference, are extremely difficult to control and steer.

“It’s pretty hard,” says a competitor donning a pirate outfit in the video. “They like to spin around a lot because they’re not really seaworthy.”

Countless costumed pumpkin boaters end up flailing into the water, sometimes before the race even begins, says the reporter. Tens of thousands of spectators flock to watch the hilarious fall celebration. Boaters can compete alone or in pairs. The Windsor Pumpkin Regatta even has tiers of pumpkin boat racing: experimental, traditional paddling, and motor.

In southern Germany, the International Pumpkin Boat Championships feature elaborate motorized pumpkin boats that blaze across a 200-meter water course. 

The race at Windsor began in 1999, and celebrated its 18th competition on Sunday October 9.

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