State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

'Great' Pumpkin Contest to Benefit Wounded Warriors

by on November 28, 2014 6:00 AM

How much does it weigh?

That's the burning question at Hog father's Old Fashioned BBQ.

For the past couple of weeks the restaurant at 1669 N. Atherton St. has been home to a colossal-sized pumpkin.

The gigantic gourd isn't for show. It's part of a fundraiser to help out veterans who've been injured while serving their country.

Most customers come to Hog father's for an order of smoked ribs, southern fried chicken, or maybe some pulled pork. But restaurant owner Glenn Kunig says the addition of this super-sized squash is generating lots of excitement. "Oh, they love it," Kunig says of his diners. "When I see people out there looking at it I'll go out there and tell them 'you can sit on top of it.' I actually had a couple standing on it."

This is no sit-on-the-front-porch jack-o-lantern. This is a voluminous veggie of truly epic proportions. Kunig says the pumpkin was hauled in on the bed of a pickup truck, but it took some heavy lifting to get it moved into position. "Hawbaker's came down here with their big skid loader and unloaded it off the pickup truck for us," he says.

Kunig is using the pumpkin to raise money for Penn State for Local Wounded Warriors. The program helps men and women who've experienced traumatic injuries while serving in the military compete in Paralympic athletic events.

Kunig says he can't do enough to help out wounded warriors and frequently offers discounts on food to veterans.

He's hoping to raise $2,000 and so far, several hundred people have chipped in a buck and tried to guess the pumpkin's weight. Other people just want to make a contribution. "Once you tell them what it's for they're like, oh, yeah, yeah, yeah," says Kunig.

Teri Jordan runs the Penn State Ability Athletics program that helps physically challenged athletes train and compete in various sports. Jordan is also involved in Penn State for Local Wounded Warriors.

"Anytime people gather together and do something to help wounded warriors, it's a blessing," she says.

The rules in the Great Pumpkin contest are simple. "It's one dollar a guess," says Kunig. "The person who get's closest to the weight of the pumpkin will win a $100 gift card [from Hog father's]." The winner will be announced on Monday, Dec. 1. Money that's raised will go for athletic equipment or to pay travel expenses for wounded warrior athletes who sometimes have to travel long distances to compete.

Jordan says it gives people "opportunities to compete like anyone else and sometimes it takes some athletic equipment to allow them to do that."

In addition to helping out a good cause, the Great Pumpkin contest is also creating some buzz.

"A lot of people have a hard time believing it's real," says Kunig. "I have a couple of guys that actually want to buy it whenever we're done with it. They want to take it out and blow it up."

Steve Bauer was the Managing Editor of Steve and his wife Trina are longtime area residents. They reside in State College along with a wacky Golden Retriever named Izzy.
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