A large dumpster filled to the brim full of pumpkins ready to be recycled, 2022. | Shanel Romain

Forest Parkers with leftover pumpkins will be able to get rid of them in style at the village’s first-ever Pumpkin Smash event. 

The Forest Park Recreation Board is taking a cue from the long-running Park District of Forest Park event while adding some unique touches. Geoff Binns-Calvey, special effects designer and husband of Rec Board Chair Amy Binns-Calvey, is putting together a “smashing device,” where the pumpkins will roll down a chute and get safely smashed into bits. The remains will then be composted by Forest Park’s regular organic waste removal contractor, Republic Services. 

The Pumpkin Smash will take place at the picnic grove at the north end the village-owned portion of the Altenheim property on Nov. 4, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. The Rec Board plans to invite the Forest Park Garden Club and other local organizations to set up tables, and reach out to local eateries to provide food. The board hopes this will be a smashing way to end fall festivities as the weather gets colder.

While the Rec Board was originally set up to manage village-operated pocket parks, its mission shifted after the village leased most of the pocket parks to the Park District of Forest Park. One of its mandates was to put together more community events and encourage volunteerism. 

The Park District of Oak Park has been holding pumpkin-smashing events at Barrie Park for years—most recently, on Nov. 6, 2022. River Forest’s Roosevelt Middle School has also done pumpkin-smash events the past two years. According to SCARCE, an Addison-based recycling and composting advocacy organization, composting pumpkins reduces the amount of methane that gets released in the atmosphere, and the water-rich, nutrient-dense nature of pumpkins makes them a great source of nourishment for the soil.

 Amy Binns-Calvey told the Review that “a lot of people” in Forest Park wanted to be able to compost their pumpkins, so it made sense for the village to follow suit.

“This is our inaugural event,” she said. “We hope it will go well, hope it will be something fun and interactive.”

During its Sept. 14 meeting, the Rec Board nailed down the time of the event and discussed what vendors they could invite. Board member Meghan Hunt suggested the Garden Club because it already encourages members to compost and could welcome an opportunity to share information. She also suggested inviting Kribi Coffee, which lists environmental sustainability as one of its major priorities. Members also agreed to invite Forest Park Kiwanis and discussed the possibility of inviting the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce and the Forest Preserve District of Cook County. 

The Rec Board decided to do some kind of promotion for Pumpkin Smash during this year’s Casket Race, which takes place on Oct. 21, and possibly get it promoted on the village website and the village newsletter. They also agreed to reach out to the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce.

The Rec Board will have one more meeting before the Pumpkin Smash, tentatively scheduled for Oct. 12 at 7 p.m., where they are expected to finalize the details.