Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Great Fruitcake Toss!

OK, so in all fairness, I didn't actually do anything for this post. I didn't make anything or fix anything, but I did go to Manitou Springs today to watch people launch old fruitcakes with pneumatic guns, catapults, trebuchets, and their own two hands.

So first things first. I like fruitcake. I can't honestly say that I have eaten a lot of it, as I only eat it at Christmas time at my Grandmother's house, but her fruitcake really is delightful. It is kind of like a spice cake with bits of dried fruit. What's not to like? Apparently for a lot of other people, there's plenty not to like. From what I have heard, most fruitcake is dry, dense, and rather tasteless. And sometimes it has those strange looking neon cherries in it that make you wonder if you are going to end up with super powers when you're done eating. So rather than eat it, the Manitou Springs-ians (Manitou Springs-ites, Manitou-ans?) decided about ten years ago that instead, people should bring the fruitcake they have been ignoring on their kitchen counter to a park for an amazing spectacle of sportsmanship in which they see who can throw or launch the despised Christmas delicacies the furthest. Thus the Great Fruitcake Toss in Manitou Springs was born.

The crowd backs up in preparation for the device launch contest.

There are several categories in which aspiring fruitcake champion hopefuls can compete for eternal glory (actually a free t-shirt, but whatever)...
There is a Kids Toss with 3 age groups, a Fruitcake Toss with a 1lb fruitcake limit, a 60+ Toss for the mature ones among us (can you say that about someone throwing a fruitcake?), and a Standard Weight Distance Division, where people hurl 2lb fruitcakes.
You can even rent a fruitcake if you don't have your own.
After that, there is a fruitcake launch. This is when people get to use the devices in which they have spent a huge amount of time (and probably money) creating something to throw fruitcake across a field for a surprisingly large amount of spectators. There are catapults, trebuchets, and slingshots. They fling very large, very heavy fruitcakes farther than the length of a football field. Seriously, you don't want to get in the way of one of these flying cake-cannon-balls.
The giant pneumatic cannons and air guns compete in a separate competition. One of those teams today launched their cake far enough to disappear over the mountain ridge to fall somewhere out of sight near the horizon (that is only a tiny exaggeration).
After all that talk of how you need to stay out of the way of these dangerous projectiles, the teams then don helmets and protective eye gear, and launch more fruitcake from their device...and try to catch it. No joke. As far as I can tell, no-one was seriously injured, which is just as well, because that could take some explaining at the hospital ("No Doctor, I'm not intoxicated, I really did get hit in the side of the head with a speeding twelve-pound-two-month-old fruitcake").

It was a funny, entertaining, and slightly strange way to spend a beautiful, unseasonably warm January morning, and you will probably see me again next year (accepting the prize for the women's standard-weight hand-toss division. That's right, training starts tomorrow).

Parting words from the event announcer? "Thanks to all these folks for coming out and watching an event that is complete nonsense!"

Don't sell yourself short, my friend, there's something to be said for a little bit of nonsense now and again.

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