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COLONIE: Pumpkin a hefty squash

The Colligans' yard catches the eyes of many passers-by in their quaint Loudonville neighborhood.

Each year, on roughly a 30-by-50-foot corner of the yard, the couple grows on average a dozen pumpkins with a combined weight of more than 1,200 pounds.

This year, retired biologist Pamela Colligan, beat her own personal best when she cut a 343-pound pumpkin from the nest of vines. After 10 years of refining her growing practices, she had finally surpassed her previous mark of 250 pounds.

But in the world of growing giant pumpkins, Colligan's biggest to date is 1,346 pounds shy of Joe Jutra's 1,689-pound, world-record-setting pumpkin, grown last year in Rhode Island.

However, Colligan isn't interested in world records. She is growing giant pumpkins to satisfy her inner research biologist and a childhood fascination with the gourd.

10 years ago I started doing this. I never really got a big one until now. We don't have good luck with pumpkins, said Colligan.

Unfortunately, Colligan's giant pumpkin was no more than a giant pile of decomposing, fibrous slop on Friday, Oct. 5.

After attending the Cooperstown Pumpkinfest Weigh-off Saturday, Sept. 29, Pamela and her husband, Bob, were contacted by a neighbor who reported their prize pumpkin, braced against metal poles driven into the ground, had been compromised by squirrels. By the time they returned home Sunday, Sept. 30, their giant was in its first day of what would become a rapid, four-day decomposition.

The couple stood over it last week recalling stories of its rapid growth and the struggle to move it to the front yard for all to see.

"We dragged it with a moving blanket," said Bob Colligan, who works in antiques and had access to the moving blankets and a few strong backs to help maneuver the pumpkin a few dozen feet to the front yard.

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