Best of Boston

2024 Best Academic Fundraiser

The Charles River Pumpkin Rides

Harvard senior Benjamin Chang fulfilled an absurdist dream last October when he rowed an enormous, hollowed-out pumpkin across the Charles River. Inspired by giant pumpkin regattas (there’s one in Maine) and Cinderella’s carriage, the 1,500-pound squash-boat’s voyage was a feat of biotechnology, physics, and crowdsourcing. The stunt also doubled as an academic mini fundraiser: For $20 a ride, bystanders could take the gourd for a solo spin, with more than $500 in proceeds going to Harvard-student-led biology research.