HAZLETON — Ellaina McRae, 7, of Jesup, had hoped her best friend would attend the Buchanan County Conservation Pumpkin Plunge with her on Saturday at Fontana Park.
“If we could do it again this year, I would totally do it,” she said. “Because Lily, my best friend, was going last year, but I wish she could come this year. She said she would because I was going to, but this virus thing showed up.”
She threw her hands up over her head and tugged at her ski cap.
Ellaina has attended summer camps with Buchanan County Conservation naturalist Sondra Cabell, but it was her first time slinging pumpkins into the lake. Still, she knew what to do when Cabell asked.
“I think we’re going to put our pumpkins on the other side of that blue thing [slingshot catapult], then pull them back and let go so they go inside the target,” Ellaina said.
Cabell had the participants practice with rocks before they began launching the various squash they had brought.
Ellaina, her dad, Drew, and brother, Arthur, 5, made some good shots and rescued some pumpkins from the lake, as did the Melancon family from Walker, who brought more kids with a greater age range.
“I liked canoeing the best because it was fun because I got to grab four pumpkins and that was a lot,” Ellaina said.
Arthur preferred the launcher.
“My favorite part was [taking] pumpkins and plunging them way out in the water,” the 5-year-old said.
Kinnick Melancon picked about seven pumpkins out of the lake with his dad and younger sister. He said, separately, that he enjoyed picking out the pumpkins more than launching them into the lake.
“Because I got to try to get them, and sometimes I didn’t get them,” Kinnick said upon reflection. “But this thing [slingshot], it was really easy.”
The Melancons helped their grandmother, Karen Batcheler of Center Point, pull back on the launcher and plunge a pumpkin far into the lake.
“Nice day out,” Batcheler commented.
Temperatures ranged in the 30s with some benign clouds.