All photos by Anastasia Page
Mar 24, 2022
Fear and launching in North Brooklyn: A DIY catapult contest in Bushwick flings for fun
At the Great Trebulation, one bartender’s vision of ‘Bushwick's first and only siege engine celebration and catapult competition’
Over the pandemic we’ve all seen a steady adoption and ditching of various hobbies and activities, from the sourdough craze of the early days to the long-haul practicality of boutique mask making. While some of us got into knitting and others adopted animals, Bushwick bartender Reid Worroll fell into a Wikipedia rabbit hole of slightly more epic proportions.
It was December 2021, when deep into our second winter of discontent, and itching for a craft project that would scratch an interest in both hands-on model making and medieval warfare, that Worroll endeavored to launch (pun intended) Bushwick’s first ever homemade trebuchet—or medieval-style catapult—competition, calling it the Great Trebulation.
“These winter months can be a real slog for a lot of folks, why not give yourself an umbilical through-line to spring in the shape of a long-form craft project?” Worroll says when pressed for a reason to build a trebuchet during the coldest part of the year.
After putting out tentative feelers, Worroll was astounded by the level of interest and enthusiasm. There followed a number of preliminary meetups for general bonding, happily hosted by the local lunatics at the bar 101 Wilson, and after “four months of the silliest organizing…I have ever undertaken,” Worroll’s catapult competition took place on the Bushwick Playground basketball courts on just last Sunday.
“I signed up not having the slightest clue of what makes a true trebuchet let alone how to build one myself,” says Max Nelson, one of Worroll’s regulars. (He competed on Team Snake Snake).
Competing for custom chainmail clothing and free tickets to Medieval Times, 10 teams lined up their homemade trebuchets, each coming in at roughly three feet high and consisting of a wooden base supporting a cantilevered central arm offset with a counterweight to each fling a Lindt Chocolate Truffle. Some catapults came covered in sparkly jewels or hot pink spray paint, while others mirrored more historical painted patterns. Their engineers and architects equally represented the spirit of the competition, donning crowns, gowns, armor and other Ren Faire flavored flair.
While the cloaked maidens of the Whorelords of Bushwick, with their peacock-feathered flinger almost took the trophy for farthest shot, the fearsome Dry Heavers ended up going the distance, nearly launching their chocolatey payload into the next neighborhood. The mysteriously masked Pu$$y Göblins won for the comeliest catapult with their pop-art projectile. And historical accuracy went to the punny Trials and Trebulations—commenting on her victory, team member Merrick Sease said simply, “I have never felt more powerful.”
All participants received a custom screen printed t-shirt and indeed the event inspired a lot of excellent artworks provided by friendly enthusiasts. It “ended up being one of the most interesting and truly epic days I’ve had in a long time!“ says Nelson of Team Snake Snake.
“I’m really lucky to be surrounded by a lot of really great artists who are willing to help me with all this silliness,” Worroll tells Brooklyn Magazine.
Although conceived as a one-off, demand is high for another Trebulation. “I was kind of kicking myself for not reaching out for sponsorships and non-profit connections this time around,” says Worroll. “I really hadn’t anticipated so many people being so into it. Now seeing the interest it generated…I will be planning it as an annual event. I’d love to get charities [or non-profits] involved, specifically youth outreach and educational programs in Brooklyn.”
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