WINDSOR, N.S. – Chip Peterson, sporting his usual pumpkin helmet and goggles, wore another special piece of apparel during the 2017 Windsor-West Hants Pumpkin Regatta, a Tragically Hip shirt.
“I think it’s a good way to spread some awareness of brain cancer, so many don’t even know about it,” Peterson said. “It’s not until you get someone like Gord that people take notice.”
Gord Downie was diagnosed with Glioblastoma, an aggressive and deadly form of brain cancer.
“And I like the Hip, a great Canadian band,” he added.
But where does Peterson’s nickname pumpkin head come from? The first time he raced he was jokingly called that, and it’s stuck ever since.
“I have to do it now,” he said jokingly.
The win marks Peterson’s second victory at the regatta, having won last year. He’s participated in the past 16 of 19 years the event has been happening.
“It felt good, the wind picked up quite a bit, and I was uncomfortable, cramping,” he said.
He added that he plans to be back next year.
Tara Warner, from Three Mile Plains paddled the bright pink pumpkin named ‘Hot Flash,’ which was sponsored by the Cheeky Chic Boutique and won the best-decorated pumpkin award.
It was Warner’s first time paddling in the regatta, and she ended up placing high in the standings.
“I was pumped, I only found out last week that I was going to be in it,” she said. “It was something I’ve always wanted to do.”
Warner said she’d love to come back next year and do the race again.
Windsor resident Kevin Walsh lost his pumpkin mid-race, but he decided to swim the rest of the way anyways.
In all, the regatta was a record-breaking one, with 51 entrants registered.
Mayor Anna Allen said she was thrilled with the turnout. Estimates put the crowd around 10,000.
“It was probably one of the most successful regattas, simply because a lot of people who weren’t here before, were here,” Allen said. “To see it the first time, they’re going to want to come back to see it again.”
“Everyone was excited, you could feel it in the air,” she said. “Couldn’t have asked for a better day.”
Allen said the timing for the event worked out well, with Thanksgiving weekend serving as a buffer between the weigh-off and the regatta.
“It gives people an opportunity to celebrate together, but not only that, it also gives (Dill) Farm a chance to do their business of running the farm,” she said.
Denise Moss, from Hammonds Plains, said her family decided to come to regatta for the first time this year because of the c
“The timing did play a factor, because we were in P.E.I. for Thanksgiving, and we do that every year,” Moss said. “So this time we decided ‘ok, we’re going to go check it out.’”
Moss, with her sister and mother, decided to check out the downtown shops between the parade and regatta.
“We stopped at the clothing store and stuff, everyone has been really nice,” she said.
“It’s a beautiful community,” Moss’ sister Paula Peckham added.
EDITOR'S NOTE - A previous version of this story said Tara Warner paddled the bright pink pumpkin named ‘Hot Flash,’ which won the best-decorated award. The pumpkin was sponsored by Cheeky Chic Boutique.