24th* Annual Spit: Triumph & Controversy


The 24th (At Least) Annual Holly Street 4th of July Watermelon-Seed Spitting Contest yielded both history and a controversy that may, in time, draw the attention of the National Watermelon Promotion Board.

The historic aspect of today’s strenuously contested battle was simple: Nico Martinucci, whom this correspondent remembers from the time before he existed in his current incarnation, became the youngest HS4JWSSC professional division winner in the competition’s voluminous and tidily kept annals. I’m not actually sure how old Nico is now — but I’m guessing 15 (his birthday’s in January). His winning hawk was 35 feet, 1 inch and change. He and his dad, Piero (HS4JWSSC pro division champ, 1998) are the first father-son winners in contest history. Neighborhood representatives are canvassing local genetics labs for interest in studying the hereditary dimension of seed-spitting prowess.

The controversy that lingers over the multigenerational Martinucci family triumph revolves around another kind of DNA mystery: Some participants in today’s festival of expectoration say they believe the continued genetic manipulation of Citrullus lanatus to produce seedless melons is making robust, massive, spittable seeds a thing of the past.

“I predict the distances will only get lower,” said frequent Holly Street visitor Greg, who finished second to young Martinucci. “It’s the seedless watermelons — the seeds you do see are just getting smaller and smaller. The seeds used to be like peach pits.” Ensuing ruminations centered on the possibility of launching a Holly Street heirloom watermelon-breeding project to produce a more satisfyingly seedy melon. Possible objections included climate and the unwanted police attention that the use of grow-lights and other artificial gardening techniques might attract.

(Pictured above: Nico Martinucci (in cap), this year’s Holly Street watermelon-seed spitting champion, with past winners from lower Holly Street (from left: Steve Kimbrough, Piero Martinucci, John Creger.)

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