Mother Nature was a thorn in the side of many chunkers and their fans but the cold temperatures, fierce winds and a storm-related Friday cancellation couldn't stop this year's Punkin Chunkin.
Mother Nature kept the winds churning and the temperatures low, pitting Chunkin teams against more than just their own science and ingenuity last weekend during the 2012 World Champion Punkin Chunkin competition in Bridgeville.
Teams are used to having to plan and plot for every sort of weather-related issue but even experienced teams seemed surprised at the constant barrage of wind.
American Chunker, Inc.'s Brian LaBrie said that they prepare and practice but you just never know what to expect.
"The wind is definitely not helping," LaBrie said. "It's coming back on us and I don't think anybody is seeing the distance they're used to."
Even with 115 competing teams, including air cannons, catapults, centrifugal, human-powered and torsion, the records were few and far between this year. No one came close to last year's top spot in the air cannon division, held by Second Amendment Too, who saw its pumpkin reach more than 4, 329 feet.
Instead, Young Glory, of Milton, took home the top honors this year with a mere 3,887.92 distance attained with its second launch.
While the air cannons do get a lot of attention for the loud booms and the puffs of smoke that signify that a pumpkin is airborne, not everyone comes to see the air cannons or even compete as seriously as those teams do.
Ryan Elmy of Phoenixville, PA has been coming for three years. His favorite category is the trebuchet, which features machines that resemble attack devices from the Middle Ages.
"I like the trebuchets," Elmy said. "Everybody crowds around the cannons but I like the science behind some other machines."
The teams know that people want to see the spectacle of the distance but some just seem to care about the camaraderie. Never Forget, a human powered team out of Milford, led by Bob Savage and Roger Lovin said that the ingenuity and the work involved is fun but they come for something more.
"Our team is made up mostly of veterans and we're not here to win," Savage said. "We're here for the prisoners of war and the missing in action. We're here so people never forget."
Another Team, High X, led by infamous Punkin Chunkin legend, Fat Jimmy, is another human-powered group concerned as much with the party as with the competition. Teammate Brent McQueen said that they were still working out the kinks of their machine.
"We're a little more prepared this year but we're still working on things," McQueen said. "It's OK, though. We may not win the competition but we'll get first place for partying."
The party seems to be what it's all about. The temperatures may have forced people into thick jackets and cozy gloves rather than the costumes that many fans usually don but people generally seemed to be having a good time regardless.
Melissa Landrin of Malvern, PA, said she comes every year for the party and will keep coming back for it.
"I'm a girl so the machines are only part of it for me," Landrin said. "I just like the atmosphere and the people you see and meet. It's fun. That's all you can say about it. It's just fun."