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WNIJ's summary of news items around our state.

Center Offers A Way To Recycle Your Jack-O'-Lanterns -- And Have Fun Doing It

Connie Kuntz

The warm weather has been great for humans, but it's hard on those post-Halloween pumpkins. Fortunately, Rockford's Discovery Center has a solution.

Grab -- carefully -- your rotting jack-o'-lantern and bring it to the parking lot of the Riverfront Museum Park on Sunday. Ann Marie Walker is the director of marketing for the center and said they'll have a giant catapult called a trebuchet.

"It's the type of catapult that was built in medieval times to launch large stones over castle walls," she said. "We'll be launching pumpkins across the parking lot and watching them smash all over the place."

If that doesn't appeal to you or your kids, this year the museum is offering two new pumpkin-smashing alternatives.

"We call it the 'mighty mallet,'" she said. "It's kind of a giant sledge hammer."

They also offer the "pumpkin pulverizer" which drops a large weight on the pumpkin or jack-o'-lantern. Because of the pandemic, kids will have choices, but won't be allowed to touch any of the equipment.

This event has taken place every year for more than 10 years and Walker said it is fun for kids and their guardians, parents or grandparents.

"We see them really having a good time -- taking photos, taking video -- just really laughing as these pumpkins get launched across the parking lot and splat everywhere," she said. "So it's really good for for all ages."

After the event, the broken-up pieces will be collected and fed to sheep at a local farm. 

Masks and advance registration are required and the event takes place in groups of 25 or less in 30-minute time slots on Sunday, November 8 from 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. The address is 711 N. Main St in Rockford and the weather forecast is mostly sunny with a high around 72 degrees.