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The great pumpkins descend on Half Moon Bay

Weigh-off event set for Monday

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John Muller needed the help of eight other men to move his giant pumpkin, Kona Moon, Friday afternoon. Kyle Ludowitz / Review 

It’s that time of year, when the giant pumpkins of the world make their way to the center stage in downtown Half Moon Bay. The 46th annual World Championship Pumpkin Weigh Off is set to start at 7 a.m. on Monday at the I.D.E.S. Hall on Main Street. It precedes the Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival on Oct. 19 and 20. 

On Friday afternoon, Half Moon Bay’s John Muller and his team prepared to transport his two giant pumpkins to the stage where they will be weighed against other behemoth competitors. 

“My girl is looking good,” he said as he prepared to cut the pumpkin from its stem. Muller planted the seeds for his entries about four months ago and built them a separate greenhouse to grow on his farm.

A meticulous art of love and dedication, growing a large gourd is no easy task. It all starts with the seeds. Muller said this year he used seeds from a mother plant that weighed 1,937 pounds.

As the pumpkin grew, Muller placed sand around it to mark how much it was growing by the waves it created underneath. The sand also prevented the pumpkins from rotting by keeping the area around them dry. 

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The same massive pumpkin was only a small sprout a few months ago when it was planted in May. Kyle Ludowitz / Review  

He gathered his team and partner Vince Zunino as he took out a knife to cut the pumpkins from their stems. A group of eight people moved the two pumpkins underneath a tarp before the gourds were lifted onto the back of a tractor using a forklift. Muller climbed up on the hay bails and hugged the largest pumpkin, which he named Kona Moon, and gave it a kiss. 

“We might give these out-of-towners a run for their money,” Muller said. 

The contestants will vive for the top prize of $30,000 for setting a new world record, which is currently a 2,624-pounds pumpkin measured in Germany. Insiders say that record could fall in Half Moon Bay on Monday.

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A team of people try to gently roll a large Atlantic Giant pumpkin onto a pallet. The pumpkin weigh-off on Monday morning marks the beginning of Half Moon Bay's pumpkin week, with the Pumpkin Festival taking place that weekend. Kyle Ludowitz / Review

Top contenders this year include Leonardo Urena of Napa, Cindy Tobeck of Olympia, Wash., and Eddy Zaychkowsky from Alberta, Canada, who is said to have a rhinoceros-sized “Rhino gourd.”

Muller however remained optimistic about his entries.

“This was probably one of the best years for me,” Muller said. “It’s about seeds, location, weather, skill and luck.”

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