Highwood Pumpkinfest goes after world record again

By Gregory Harutunian for Chronicle Media

A pumpkin house is just one of the creative ways that festival will find to display their attempt on the world record for jack-o’-lanterns on display. (Photo courtesy of Celebrate Highwood)

They’re going for it again to break the world record for the most lit pumpkins on display at the same time.

Celebrate Highwood has announced the 13th Annual Great Highwood Pumpkin Festival, Oct. 6-8, to attain the designation through the Guinness Book of World Records.

The city of Highwood will literally be covered in racks and scaffolding to hold the glowing orbs, with each pumpkin having its own votive candle. Anyone and everyone are invited, especially families, to visit one of the four carving stations placed around the downtown. There is no entry fee, and the pumpkins will be placed on one of the racks.

The real magic happens at 7 p.m., Oct. 8, when all the Great Pumpkin Wall will be lit. There will be ceremonial lightings at 7:45 p.m., Oct. 6, and again at 8 p.m., Oct.8.

“The effect is mesmerizing,” said Ilyse Strongin, promotions director for Celebrate Highwood. “The Great Pumpkin Walls are lit up nightly. The festival grounds are scattered throughout Highwood at the City Hall, Everts Park, Painters Park, and the Highwood Metra parking lot. This year, we have a good shot at the record.”

The world record for the most jack-o’-lanterns on display of 30,581 is held by Keene, New Hampshire, and was set in 2013. They no longer stage such events and it gives Highwood an opportunity to make the adjudicator’s job from Guinness that much easier.

Strongin said Celebrate Highwood made no attempts at the record over the past few years, instead working on fundraising efforts for nonprofit groups. Last year, they focused on providing funds for the Highland Park Community Foundation after the 4th of July incident in the downtown area.

Along with the 13th annual Great Highwood Pumpkin Fest, the town will also boast the first “Pumpkin Town USA,” in the center of Everts Park. The popular “Skeletons on Display” has a theme this year of “Rock ’n’ Roll Through History”. These artistic seasonal installations will be up all month long.

“‘The ‘Skeletons on Display’ and ‘Pumpkin Town USA’ are such a great way to kick off the season, and offer a preview of what’s to come at Pumpkin Fest and throughout the entire month of October,” said James Lynch, executive director of the Art Center of Highland Park. “This year’s artists are enthusiastically taking the Rock ’n’ Roll theme and running with it, creating amazing displays for the public to enjoy.”

A preview of the family friendly festival will be from 5-9 p.m. Oct. 5, with a Community Appreciation Night. Getting the pumpkins rolling at all-you-can-carve stations that night, there is also a special with unlimited carnival rides.

Live music, food, and artisan craft vendors are featured for the three days of the festival.

There is trick-or-treating from 4-6 p.m., Oct. 6, throughout the festival grounds. On Oct. 8, the Painters Park Stage will host a Pets Costume Contest at Noon, followed by a Kids Costume Contest, and then, the requisite Pumpkin Pie Eating Contest.

“The Great Highwood Pumpkin Fest put Highwood on the map and it’s the perfect kick-off to fall, after our summer series of events,” says Eric Falberg. Celebrate Highwood’s president. “In our lucky 13th year, we are bringing back all of the fan favorites and will once again go for the world record of the most jack-o’-lanterns lit and displayed.”

For a full music lineup, and schedule, visit www.celebratehighwood.org or  www.highwoodpumpkinfest.com websites.