Half Moon Bay has a new champion — a 1,775 giant pumpkin that squashed the scales on Monday along with local and statewide records.
The clear heavyweight in the contest, Thad Starr of Pleasant Hill, Ore., bested his nearest competitor’s pumpkin by more than 250 pounds, winning his third Half Moon Bay Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off.
For his victory, Starr will receive $6 per pound in prize money, adding up to $10,650.
Flanked by a wall of media cameras and microphones, Starr said he was delighted to beat his personal best.
“I’m surprised; I’m very surprised,” he said. “It takes all summer to do this. It takes several hours each day.”
Starr credited his daughter, Danika, for choosing the lucky seed to grow his winner. His winning technique meant using about a ton of foul-smelling chicken manure, testing his family’s patience in the process. Growing the pumpkin also meant surrendering any hope of a summer trip with his kids.
The trip to Half Moon Bay amounted to the Starr family’s long-awaited vacation, and they were doing it right. Their next stop was Disneyland, before circling back to be guests of honor this weekend for the Half Moon Bay pumpkin festival.
Starr was followed in the championship by a 1,521-pounder grown by fellow Pleasant Hill resident Steve Daletas. John Hawkley of Napa County won third place with a 1,480-pound giant.
Richard Westervelt of Granite Bay nearly took second place, but was disqualified at the last moment after judges discovered a soft spot on the pumpkin rind. His pumpkin weighed 1,621 pounds.
The Coastside’s homegrown giant grower John Muller took top honors in the local contest with his 480-pound pumpkin. Ron Barker emerged victorious in the statewide contest with a 905 pounder.
Eric Carlson of Portola Valley won the beauty prize for his picturesque pumpkin “Eye Candy.”