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The Chagrin Falls's Pumpkin Roll is a tradition that has occurred in the village of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, since the 1970s. It involves the students of Chagrin Falls High School rolling pumpkins down Grove Hill in downtown Chagrin Falls and then sledding down the "goo".

Contents

History

The "Pumpkin Roll" began as a class prank undertaken by the Chagrin Falls High School class of 1969. The students took 69 pumpkins and rolled them down Grove Hill (part of Main Street in Chagrin Falls). The two conductors of this prank were Steve and Allen Leach. Big help was received from classmate Alvin "Beanie" Smith, as he was the main transport for the gourds as he owned a dump truck which he used for a landscaping business. The Leaches's younger brother and many of his classmates from the class of 1971, advanced and continued the movement. Students from the class of 1970 and 1971 collected pumpkins typically no smaller than a basketball and dumped them out of the backs of their cars and watch them roll down the steep hill. The class of 1971 dumped around 500 pumpkins.

These students started a tradition that has been carried for over 30 years since. According to the de facto rules of the event, it is planned largely by the senior class of Chagrin Falls High School, with help from the juniors. No other students are supposed to participate. As a result, the Pumpkin Roll has become a bonding experience for the junior and senior classes. They traditionally smash open the pumpkins and slide down the hill on a chosen night around Halloween. The event initially began as a "dump and run" operation but has currently evolved into a much more elaborate setup as students sled down the hills on recycling bins, baby pools, and other objects that could be used as sleds. Police interference has had little effect over the years. Without fail, the event ends with some, often minor, injuries to some participants.

Pumpkins are typically stolen from houses surrounding the area. Juniors and seniors go out the nights before the actual event to steal them. This act has been dubbed by the locals as "pumpkining". If caught taking pumpkins, police officials charge students with counts of theft. As of October 2009, the class of 2006 and 2007 hold the record for most pumpkins taken with an estimated 2,000 pumpkins thrown down Grove Hill the night of the 2005 roll.

As of late the Roll has maintained a strong connection with underage drinking. A large party beforehand is usually held at a barn where all the pumpkins are collected before charging the hill.

The current record for largest pumpkin stolen is held by a pumpkin weighing in at 776.5 pounds. At that time, this pumpkin was stolen by four juniors (from the class of 2009).

In 2008, Solon resident Robert Bowen was talking with a police officer, when he was struck from behind by a sled that was going down the hill. He fell and hit his head on the concrete, and was quickly transported to a hospital. The incident left him unconscious and on life support. This may affect the future years of the pumpkin roll.

The event is held on a "secret" day determined by the upperclassmen of Chagrin Falls High School.

Coverage

Every year, footage from the event airs on Cleveland's local news stations. Footage from the 2004 Pumpkin Roll shot by former student Ryan Luby appeared on ESPN as number eight on the “Not Top 10 Plays of the Week”. This drew national attention towards Chagrin Falls, which is a small village with a population of roughly 4,000.

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