Man paddles 38 miles down the Missouri River in an 846-pound pumpkin

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A Nebraska power plant worker floated 38 miles down the Missouri River in an 846-pound pumpkin in an effort to sail past the Guinness World Record of 25 miles.

Duane Hansen, 60, said Tuesday that he planned to submit video and witness statements this week to the record-keeping organization documenting his 12-hour cruise Saturday from Bellevue, just south of Omaha, to Nebraska City.

The current record of 25.5 miles was set in 2018 by a man who paddled from North Dakota to Minnesota, according to the organization. 

Duane Hansen in Berta, an 846-pound pumpkin he paddled down the Missouri River.
Duane Hansen in Berta, an 846-pound pumpkin he paddled down the Missouri River.Courtesy Yvonne Hansen

“I’ve been dreaming about this,” Hansen said. “This has been a five-year journey to get a pumpkin that’s big enough.”

Officials from the city of Bellevue helped document the journey on its Facebook page, noting when Hansen launched from the public docks (7:30 a.m.), when he appeared to surpass the old record (2:52 p.m.) and when he arrived at Nebraska City (6:30 p.m.)

“Seems like a unique if not slightly crazy way to celebrate his 60th birthday, which was yesterday,” the post said.

Hansen, who pushes coal for the Omaha Public Power District, said his knees were still sore, and he was thankful that he didn’t capsize on one of the river’s many hazards, like the rocks he hit or the waves that pushed over the sides of his vessel.

His wife named the boat Berta after the “Two and a Half Men” character.

Hansen said he got the idea to capture the world record after he attended a pumpkin growing seminar in Oregon and met a previous record holder. 

It took him five years to grow the kind of pumpkin — an Atlantic Giant — that was large enough to get him over the finish line.

“I’ve grown a lot of failures,” Hansen said, noting that he has raised plenty of gourds in the 200- to 400-pound range. “I needed an 800 plus.”

“This year I had some failures with other plants,” he added. “But this one here pulled through.”

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