Some communities have hospital bed races. Others pit outhouses on wheels against each other.
Mr. Marsh is a self-described gearhead with street rods and other vehicles who matched his motorized casket's color to his 2005 Chevrolet Corvette. He has raced for the last three years, and while he has taken heats, the biggest honor has been winning the people's choice award, he said.
"Being a caretaker, that means something to me," said Mr. Marsh, director of Marsh Funeral Homes in Luckey, Pemberville, and Woodville.
Motorized casket races primarily is a spectator sport because they are not widely used vehicles, explained Mayor Lowell Krumnow, whose son, James, races the casket he had motorized for the Elmore Historical Society.
"The only time you can use it is around Halloween," said Mayor Krumnow, also historical society founder and president. "You can't really drive it the rest of the year."
The Tombstone Derby got its start in 2005, when Mayor Krumnow assessed celebrations in other communities but thought the Elmore Historical Society would drive the Halloween theme home, so to speak.
"I wanted to take off in a different direction," Mayor Krumnow recalled. "I've always loved Halloween."
Coffins can be handmade or from a mortuary, but none of the motorized getups can go faster than 25 miles an hour - and they must have brakes.
Only adults are allowed to race motorized caskets, but children can enter a Halloween decoration contest with their battery operated vehicles. Registration for both motorized caskets and battery operated vehicles begins at noon.
Highlights of this year's festivities, presented by the Elmore Chamber of Commerce, include:
•9 a.m., registration for pie contest at fire station and pumpkin contest at log cabin.
•Noon, judging for pies, which will be sold by the slice, and carved pumpkins to be on display at the cabin.
•1 p.m., kid-friendly haunted log cabin, ghoulish food, fortune teller, ghost stories, and craft fair.
•2 p.m., body and cadaver toss contests.
•3 p.m., pet Halloween costume contest.
•4 p.m., motorized casket drag races.
•5 p.m., children's "trails for treats" at downtown businesses.
•6 p.m., parade.
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