BELPRE - Community members of all ages filled the sidewalk and playground beside Belpre Elementary School as one-by-one packages of all shapes and sizes were hurled from the roof Tuesday evening during the annual Pumpkin Drop.
Each year, per tradition, each class at the school packs a pumpkin in an array of items; some were packed in boxes with a great amount of packing materials while others were padded with balloons and another surrounded by a number of basketballs.
"This is my first year as a teacher and I am so surprised neither of my class' two pumpkins broke," said fourth-grade teacher Emily Dunfee. "I am so excited for my kids to have done so well."
Dunfee's largest pumpkin was first attached to four medium sized green bouncy balls and wrapped in Bubble Wrap with clear packing tape before it and a smaller, unwrapped pumpkin were placed in a cardboard box filled with old shirts and more Bubble Wrap.
"I think we will stick with this combination of items next year," Dunfee said. "I think the bouncy balls made all of the difference."
Of the more than 200 children gathered around the designated drop zone, most were dressed in their Halloween costumes and bouncing with excitement whether they are students who had a hand in designing a pumpkin's packaging or too young to be in school, said school guidance counselor Scott Miller.
"It is great to see everyone excited and having a good time together," Miller said. "It is not very often parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and siblings attend school events together, so this is nice and special."
This was the first Pumpkin Drop for new Belpre Elementary School Principal Joy Edgell, who said she was as excited as her daughters who are 6 and 3 years old.
"It is such a unique and fun event," Edgell said. "There are so many creative ideas and ways kids have come up with to keep their pumpkins safe that I can't wait to see what they come up with next year."
While the goal of the event, which had Edgell join art teacher Chad Stevens and second-grade teacher Adam Greene in tossing the pumpkins and their adornments from the roof, was to keep the gourds intact, some teachers had other ideas.
"I know we had a couple of teachers hollow out their pumpkins and fill them with candy," Edgell said. "It will be interesting to see how the kids react to the pumpkin pinatas."
Not only did the evening include the tossing and breaking of pumpkins, but also dinner. Concessions, including homemade chicken and noodles and pulled pork sandwiches, were sold by the Lady Eagles Basketball Team.
Prior to the drop, the third annual Miss Belpre in Bloom contest was held in the school gymnasium.
Natalie Miller, a fourth-grader, was crowned the new Miss Belpre in Bloom for 2014 while third-grader Isis LaSheay Bass was named the first runner-up and second runner-up was sixth-grader Karley Bell.
Miller takes over for Miss Belpre in Bloom 2013 Isabelle Williams, who passed the crown during the event.
"This really is a cool thing," said Mayor Mike Lorentz. "I had no idea the school did something like this and so many people came out for it.
"It is great for the kids to see their work put to use and to know their families and community support them like this," he said.