Nebraska man claims world record for paddling 38 miles – in a pumpkin

Duane Hansen sails down Missouri River on ‘SS Berta’ for 11 hours

Maroosha Muzaffar
Tuesday 30 August 2022 13:25 BST
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A man floats down the Missouri River in a giant hollowed out pumpkin, in Bellevue, Nebraska
A man floats down the Missouri River in a giant hollowed out pumpkin, in Bellevue, Nebraska (Phil Davidson, City Of Bellevue/via Reuters)

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Louise Thomas

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A 60-year-old Nebraska man has potentially set a new world record by paddling 38 miles downriver – a feat that wouldn’t be especially remarkable, except for the fact that he did so inside a giant pumpkin grown in his garden.

Duane Hansen of Syracuse, Nebraska, completed his unusual journey in an 856-pound hollowed-out pumpkin last week, according to a Facebook post by officials of the Bellevue city on Saturday.

The city said officials could not believe what they had witnessed.

“They say if you stay in your job long enough you might see just about everything and this morning was one of those days!” they began their Facebook post.

The city said Mr Hansen had asked “if a couple of people from Bellevue City Hall would serve as official witnesses for his effort to be recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records”.

It took the Nebraska native 11 hours to complete the journey. He set off down the Missouri River around 7.30am and completed his journey just after 6.30pm, according to the post.

A 60-year-old Nebraska man paddled in a giant pumpkin
A 60-year-old Nebraska man paddled in a giant pumpkin (City of Bellevue / Facebook)

The city wrote that Mr Hansen’s wife and friends were following alongside in a boat should any mishaps occur.

The pumpkin paddler told Omaha World-Herald newspaper that it was “just like riding on a cork” and added that the bizarre journey was not easy.

Duane Hansen gets ready to undertake his journey
Duane Hansen gets ready to undertake his journey (City of Bellevue / Facebook)

Mr Hansen said he has been trying to grow giant pumpkins for over a decade and he named the gourd he journeyed on as “SS Berta”.

Local reports said he spent thousands of dollars and hours trying to grow the perfect pumpkin for his expedition.

Duane Hansen named his giant gourd ‘SS Berta’, seen here etched on the pumpkin
Duane Hansen named his giant gourd ‘SS Berta’, seen here etched on the pumpkin (City of Bellevue / Facebook)

“You have to water, fertilise and just baby the things every day of the growing season,” he said.

Mr Hansen had dreamt of setting a world record.

So he began contacting people who could bear witness as he paddled the river in his edible vessel. These included his son Colton and his daughter Morgan Buchholz. His sister, Yvonne Hansen, also flew in from San Diego, reports said.

Duane Hansen took 11 hours to complete his outlandish sail in a hollowed-out pumpkin
Duane Hansen took 11 hours to complete his outlandish sail in a hollowed-out pumpkin (Phil Davidson, City Of Bellevue/via Reuters)

Two other witnesses came from the Mayor’s Office in Bellevue.

“It’s not every day you have a guy who comes in and says he needs two witnesses to watch a pumpkin going down the Missouri River for the Guinness Book of World Records,” said Lisa Rybar, administrative assistant to the mayor of Bellevue.

“We had no idea he was going to be in the pumpkin. We thought we were just going to watch it float.”

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