Science Channel has scrapped its plan for a three-hour “Punkin Chunkin” special on Nov. 26 after an accident during the event earlier this month in Delaware left a woman in critical condition.
“Punkin Chunkin” is a competitive event organized by the World Championship Punkin Chunkin Association in which teams compete to hurl pumpkins long distances with the use of elaborate homemade mechanical launchers. This year was to mark the event’s return to TV with a new competition after a two-year hiatus. Science Channel planned an elaborate special that would have been simulcast on its sibling Discovery Channel.
“In light of the unfortunate incident at the Punkin Chunkin event on Nov. 6, Science Channel will not air ‘Punkin Chunkin’ as originally planned,” Science Channel spokesman Paul Schur said. “We are sending our hopes and prayers for a full recovery to the injured woman, her family and loved ones.”
The woman’s name has not been released. A report Nov. 10 in Delaware’s Cape Gazette described the victim as a 39-year-old producer working on the event. The special was to have been produced by Sharp Entertainment with Matt Sharp, Dan Adler and Scott Miller exec producing, along with Kyle McCabe exec producing for Science Channel and Lindsey Foster Blumberg serving as producer for Science Channel.
According to local reports, the woman was injured when the air cannon operated by the Punkin Reaper team malfunctioned, sending a large metal plate flying. The woman was hit in the head and in the face. The victim’s medical status was not immediately clear on Sunday. The competition was held Nov. 4-6 in Bridgeville, Del.
The Punkin Chunkin competitive event began in 1986. A TV special derived from the Delaware gathering of backyard enthusiasts first aired on Discovery in 2002. Six years later, Science Channel picked up the property and made it an annual post-Thanksgiving tradition. However, the event was not held in 2014 and 2015, forcing Science Channel to run clip shows of past Punkin Chunkin competitions.
“I couldn’t be prouder to announce that, thanks to the unparalleled efforts of our dedicated volunteers and the undying support of the community we serve, the Chunk is back, and we intend for it to be bigger and better than ever,” said Punkin Chunkin president Frank Peyton in announcing the special last month. “We’re honored to once again be partnering with Science Channel to help further the Chunk’s reach and promote the charitable endeavors and scholarship programs that it always has, and always will, support. Together we’ll bring Punkin Chunkin — a Delaware tradition unlike any other — back to homes nationwide.”
(Pictured: A team at work during the 2006 Punkin Chunkin competition)