By Jennifer Kahn
Consumer Marketing Manager/New Business, Yankee Publishing
Carving a pumpkin underwater is a bit of a challenge. To start with, you usually wear thick neoprene gloves, so your manual dexterity is reduced. Also, pumpkins are completely full of air, and one of the carve-off rules is that the pumpkin can’t have any cuts in it before you descend. On top of all that, the carving event takes place after dark.
When you dive at night, you’re already carrying extra gear in the form of two dive lights. Add to that your favorite pumpkin-carving knife, a spoon or scoop for the seeds, and an incredibly buoyant and slippery squash, and it’s quite a challenge to get everything down with you.
We sit in the muck in about 15 feet of water, each diver or buddy pair a few yards from any of the others. To start the carving process, you have two options: Your buddy can hold down your pumpkin (and risk losing a finger) while you quickly remove the top, or you can wrap your entire body around this floating orb, and wrestle it to the ground while removing the top yourself. I personally opt for this second method, as I think it’s a bit more fun.
Once you’ve removed the lid, you have to secure it so that it doesn’t float away. The pumpkin itself become slightly less buoyant at this point, and is a bit easier to handle. Some carvers fill the pumpkin with weights to hold it down, and place a dive light inside to facilitate the carving process.
After they’ve finished carving, the divers exit the water and show off their creations. Amazingly, many of the pumpkins are intricately and expertly carved — and they’re all always interesting.
After the dive we usually head to Lee & Mt. Fuji (great Chinese and sushi;) for nourishment, and to recount our experiences. This event is held every year, usually the Friday before Halloween, and usually around the back side of Dublin Lake (once scheduled, details will be listed at www.monadnockdivers.org. Pumpkin judging typically occurs the next day at a dish-to-pass, and prizes are awarded.