Harvard student crosses the Charles River in a giant pumpkin

Local News

Ben Chang had two goals this semester: to raise money for his student-lab and to float in a giant pumpkin.

Ben Chang paddles a pumpkin across the Charles.
Ben Chang set sail on the Charles River in a giant pumpkin this weekend, WBZ radio reported. WBZ Radio

A Harvard student crossed the Charles River this weekend with nothing but an oar, a 1,500 pound pumpkin, and a dream, WBZ NewsRadio reported in a TikTok on Sunday. 

@wbznewsradio It’s the great pumpkin, Charles River. #Boston #Massachusetts #NewEngland #HarvardUniversity #HarvardSquare #massachusettsinstituteoftechnology #CambridgeMA #AllstonMA #BrightonMA #CharlesRiver #WatertownMA #BostonUniversity #EmersonCollege #BostonCheck #BostonTikTok ♬ original sound – WBZ NewsRadio

Ben Chang, also known as Reddit user Benjamin 621, made headlines in early October. Chang posted to Reddit asking to borrow a forklift, with one very specific goal in mind. 

Help borrowing forklift to ride a pumpkin down the Charles River
byu/Benjamin621 inboston

“It is my life’s dream to row a giant pumpkin down the Charles River and I have finally saved up enough money to purchase one, but I just found out from the pumpkin grower that I need a forklift to receive it (as it is 1,000 pounds),” Chang wrote.

Chang told WBZ the wacky scheme was in an effort to raise money for a student-led lab.

The Reddit post successfully connected Chang to Tim Myra, who told WBZ’s Matt Shearer he thought the project was “awesome” and volunteered one of his forklifts to transport the pumpkin. 

At its final destination the white behemoth was carved by Chang and his friends.

Free of pumpkin guts, participants paid to take turns hopping in the vessel and going for spins on the Charles. An oar and a life vest were all that stood between them and the chilly river. 

“I feel like I’m in the womb again,” one participant said during their time in the large squash.

The last act of Chang’s impressive feat was left to him: to cross the Charles in the pumpkin all by himself. 

In a captain’s hat and a Harvard sweatshirt, the student set sail and saw out his mission. The river was successfully crossed in a pumpkin as heavy as a grand piano.

“My parents are not super happy this is happening,” Chang said.