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Doug Clark: Help Chewelah break jack-o’-lantern record, and don’t forget the eyebrows

UPDATED: Mon., Oct. 19, 2015, 3:19 p.m.

Guinness officials require carved pumpkins to have a mouth, nose, eyes and eyebrows (like the one shown in this 2009 photo) to qualify for the world record. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Guinness officials require carved pumpkins to have a mouth, nose, eyes and eyebrows (like the one shown in this 2009 photo) to qualify for the world record. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

If you’re the sort of person who reminisces about the folksier way things used to be, Chewelah’s “Light Up the Park” is your steaming mug of cider.

And, no, this Light Up event has nothing at all to do with Washington’s legalized pot laws.

Picture this: This coming Saturday this town of 2,600 (about 49 miles north of Spokane) will come together in a wholesome attempt to set a Guinness World Record for a continuous line of carved and lighted pumpkins.

Many of you probably weren’t aware that such a record existed. But I’m pretty sure there’s a record for almost everything these days.

Last year, according to my Light Up sources, the world mark for a gourd conga line was set by some California interlopers from Irvine. They reportedly managed to assemble 1,510 glowing pumpkins.

Hah! That’s chump change for Chewelah.

The town is aiming for “2015 pumpkins in 2015,” said Judy Bean, a Chewelah Arts Guild board member. “We’re going for our goal and we think it can happen.”

Bean said she got the basic idea in a magazine article about a neighborhood mass pumpkin lighting. The Guinness angle came from another Arts Guild member.

Chewelah was soon off and carving.

Even better, this pre-Halloween fun is open to anyone who wants to watch or bring a jack-o’-lantern and take part.

Carved pumpkins can be dropped off for the lineup from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday at the Chewelah City Park. The lighting takes place from 5-8 p.m. and should be a glowing sight to behold.

(Check out the Light Up the Park Facebook page or chewelahartsguild.org for more details.)

“We’d love to have Spokane people come up,” said Sarah English, a Light Up spokeswoman. “This is a must-visit Chewelah day.”

Every participant needs to know, however, that the people from Guinness are rather, um, picky about what constitutes a properly carved pumpkin.

According to the rules, each and every pumpkin must have a mouth, nose, eyes – plus eyebrows.

Some Light Up carvers discovered this eyebrow clause belatedly during last year’s attempt. They were forced to perform some frantic cosmetic surgery in order to compete.

Ah, but it ultimately didn’t matter.

Chewelah managed to line up only 1,100 pumpkins, which fell short but was still impressive considering this was the town’s “first-ever” stab at such Guinness glory.

“Oh, my, it made a beautiful scene,” added Bean.

This year Chewelahns (Chewbaccians?) are attacking the record as if they’re preparing for war.

Everybody from the mayor on down is taking part in this all-volunteer army. Every detail is being planned for and strategized.

Videographers?

Check.

Pumpkin lighters?

Check.

Impartial judges?

Check. Check. Check.

Free pumpkins have been distributed courtesy of the Chamber of Commerce.

When I stopped by Chewelah’s library the other day, three youths came in and left with donated pumpkins. Who says kids don’t use the library anymore?

I love the community’s spirit and enthusiasm, especially after the hard knock it took a few months ago.

With its median income of $30,720, Chewelah was tagged by a national study as Washington’s “poorest city.”

In contrast, the state average is $59,478.

One news site reported that, “the share of households earning at least $200,000 annually across Washington was more than six times greater than the same share in Chewelah.”

But this rough economic news doesn’t measure heart.

“I’m so excited to be in a town that does super-creative things,” English said.

Wouldn’t it be great if Chewelah’s great pumpkin race served as an inspiration for Spokane?

Really. There’s no reason my hometown can’t achieve a mark of worldwide fame, too.

Why, there must be a Guinness World Record for potholes, say, or Most Hot Air coming out of a city hall.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or dougc@spokesman.com.


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