350-Pound Inflatable Jack-o’-lantern Bounces Down City Street

Photo: Diego Ramirez

A boulder-size inflatable jack-o’-lantern broke free of its moorings and bounced down a street in Peoria, Arizona, like a smiling, nightmare-inducing supersize basketball on Thursday.

The 25-foot plastic gourd snagged traffic signals and careened through traffic before being apprehended by a playground swing set. The owner spent 40 minutes driving in pursuit of the pumpkin.

I was so shocked to see that it was like bouncing like a basketball all the way down the road,” Patrick Sparkes, of Big AZ Promotions, told WTSP. “Like, oh my god, I didn’t know it was going to go that far.”

Strong winds lifted the inflatable free of the straps holding it — not a Wiccan curse designed to wreak Halloween havoc on unaware motorists. 

For those wondering what, exactly, the symbolic significance of a carved pumpkin holds, it’s like a “welcome home” sign for traveling spirits. The founder of the New York Wicaan Family Temple, Starr Ravenhawk, told the New York Times that, with all of the carousing spirits on the loose, you need a way to separate the good from the bad. “It’s an invitation, and it keeps away the ones that we don’t need.”

In Wiccan lore, swing sets are not established as the only entity able to subdue double-crossing jack-o’-lanterns that use their power for evil, but after their heroism today, maybe they should be. 

It wouldn’t be surprising if Arizona residents were completely desensitized to random acts of surreality on their streets at this point. After the Great Llama Escape of February, when a pair of llamas unleashed pandemonium on Thunderbird Highway, or that time when sprinting kangaroos were chased by police in Tucson, a giant pumpkin can just look like loose vegetation. 

Jack-o’-lantern on the Loose