Monday, October 25, 2010

26,283 Jack-O-Lanterns, One Satisfying Time

Our neighboring community of Highwood had a pumpkin festival this weekend.  The spotlight of the event was an attempt to break the Guinness Book of World Records of 30,128 jack-o-lanterns set by Boston, MA in 2006.

With history in the making, I thought we should check it out.  How fun it would be to partake in the festivities and show Kai 30,000 pumpkins.

The drive over to Highwood was short, but as soon as we turned onto the main street of this tiny town, we were caught in a long traffic tie-up.  Within moments, Kai started his back-seat driving for me to park the car.  I had flashbacks to the small-town traffic torment we unexpectedly encountered at the Burgoo Festival a couple of weeks ago.

But, Kai held it together just enough while I managed to drive out of the quagmire and found a place to park several blocks away.  We were all determined to see the history-making pumpkins, so we walked back into the heart of town. 

We found a LOT of jack-o-lanterns.  Many were quite creative.  Kai liked the ones with letters carved in them.  I just liked that the community had come together to work on this.

There were about as many people in the main festival area as there were pumpkins.  It was hard to get around as the crush of the crowd surrounded all the various booths that were set up.  Besides the many large displays of jack-o-lanterns, we didn’t see much of the festival as Kai quickly got overwhelmed and insisted that we leave. 

We made the trek back to our car.  Just as we got there, it started to rain hard.  My wife thanked Kai for getting us out of the festival in time so that we didn’t get soaked. 

The next day, I discovered that Highwood had ended up with 26,283 jack-o-lanterns.  They had fallen short of the world record. 

I’m sure that was at least somewhat disappointing to all those who worked so hard.  Still, I have a feeling that there was a great deal of satisfaction out of making such a valiant attempt. 

And that is sometimes how it is with raising a child with autism.  You don’t always accomplish your big goals, but you often find satisfaction in the journey nonetheless. 

On this night, Kai got upset at times, but didn’t have a major meltdown. We didn’t see a world-record number of jack-o-lanterns or very much else at the festival, but we got to see 26,000 pumpkins and stayed dry.  All things considered, that’s not a bad evening.    

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