“Drop it! Drop it! Drop it!” students at Smith Elementary School scream to Delaware City firefighter Robert Jarvis, who dangles a pumpkin 70 feet in the air over the playground at the school.
From the top of a ladder fire truck, Jarvis hypes up the students and conducts their chanting like a maestro before releasing the pumpkin, sending it plummeting into the playground pavement, where it’s blown to smithereens.
Most of the students cheer and point out bits of pumpkin that may have skidded close to them. A handful of students frown, remembering the work they put into decorating the pumpkins during class last month.
City of Delaware Fire Lt. Jarrod Lilly said the fire department has been collaborating with the school district to do these pumpkin drops for the last five years, mostly at Woodward Elementary. He added this was the department’s first smashing at Smith.
“The number one (reason we do it) is it’s for the kids,” Lilly said. “We enjoy the looks on the kids’ faces. It’s all about the kids. We’re adults, we’ve seen it. This is 100% for them. (We enjoy) seeing the looks on the kids’ faces, the smiles, the cheers.”
Lilly said the event was organized by Social Skills Specialist Adam Wadkins, who spent most of the day filming the pumpkin drops with various cameras, including a camera attached to one of the pumpkins.
Wadkins said he wanted the event to be something fun for students.
“It’s for the kids,” he said. “The times that we’re in, let’s do something uplifting and positive. It’s simple and fun.”
Wadkins joked that some students were upset that their hand-decorated pumpkins were destroyed, but he added students enjoyed the event.
“There were a couple of frowny faces when they see their hard work splatting on the ground,” Wadkins said. “These are hard days that we’re pushing through. It’s about being able to find something positive and simple. I can tie it into a lesson about physics. I love seeing the smiles on their faces. They are happy. There are some staff members with the same sized smile, and I like seeing that, too.”
Smith Principal Jake LeGros said he’s glad the event made it to Smith.
“We’re happy any time we are able to utilize community resources and get the kids excited,” LeGros said. “They’re very excited.”
LeGros added he’s also happy to build a positive relationship with the community and the fire department.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.