Sixteen-year-old Conall Hartig won first place at the 2nd Annual Green Flash Dive Underwater Pumpkin Carving last Saturday in Lau Lau Bay, besting 14 other entries by carving a pumpkin in a form of a shark, complete with sharp teeth, gills, and fins, which ticked all the judges’ boxes in creativity, visual impact, craftmanship, and abiding with the “underwater Halloween” theme.
Second runner-up was Madge Gai with an environmental theme, a turtle trapped in plastic; and third place went to Jon Ball, who carved a shark and CNMI latte stone on his pumpkin.
As his prize, Hartig took home a Scubapro regulator, Gai won a pair of Scubapro jet fins, and Ball got a pair of Scubapro twin jet fins.
Green Flash Dive owner and scuba instructor Joey McDoulett said the number of participants this year was up. “We had 15 divers and entries. Everyone had a good time and many who were helping did it for free and that is always good. We will try to make it bigger and better next year,” he said.
“I think all the entries were fantastically creative. …We feel bad about the loss of tourists and tax dollars but we do enjoy the chance to see and explore our uninhibited dive spots as local divers get first dibs,” he said.
First-time participants Dr. Ronald Snyder, headmaster at Saipan International School, and Federal Emergency Management Agency Recovery Office director and dive enthusiast Sheryl Cochran said that they will do it again next year.
“Last year, I was away. …I couldn’t participate so I was bummed,” said Snyder, “and so I am happy I could do it this year. It was great and had a lot of learning. …I didn’t realize how much the water would soften the pumpkins so mine experienced quite a good deal of collapse underwater but it was a lot of fun and a blast watching everyone what they can come up with.”
“It was fun! It was my first time doing it and I had a good time,” Cochran said.
Assistant public defender Karie Comstock, who competed last year and won first place, felt nerves kick in by doing it again. “I competed last year and there was some pressure, but the other thing is, I look back at last year, I didn’t know any single person here and didn’t know how to get out of the dive site. This year, I know everybody, which is a big improvement,” she said
“With the pandemic this year, our local dive groups really came together with doing a lot more of local diving. I will definitely join again next year,” she added.
For extra challenge, diver participants were also required to wear Halloween costumes. The winners are Matt Epstein as “Ol Greg” in first place and Karie Comstock won second place as the “Shark.”