Pumpkins in the Park is a joint venture between the Lee County Tourism Committee and Wilderness Road State Park, who will host the event for the first time providing a safe and fun environment for kids to enjoy Halloween. The costume contest and pet costume contest will be conducted at 6:30 pm on the Karlan Mansion lawn with the cost of the event $5 per vehicle, which will go toward the expenses incurred with the event.
A pumpkin carving contest (Best Jack-O-Lantern) will be judged between 5:00 pm and 5:30 pm for those in the community wishing to put their Halloween creation up against the best carvers in the area. Those wishing to participate in the Best Jack-O-Lantern contest must have their carved pumpkins delivered to the park no later than 3:00 pm on the Friday before the event (October 30) to be eligible for the Best Jack-O-Lantern trophy! “We want to have them placed around the Karlan Mansion lawn for display with the carver’s name to be placed on a small tag to identify the creator(s),” explained park concession manager Mike Brindle. “The jack-o-lantern can be a single person effort or, better yet, a family project!” The jack-o-lantern carvers are asked to leave their creations on display until the event is complete, or they can pick up their pumpkin the next day. This will allow all visitors a chance to see these holiday masterpieces.
“We are really putting an emphasis on getting the community involved in the park and our programs,” stated Park Manager Jon Tustin, who is also looking forward to partnering with Lee County Tourism. “With the community pumpkin carving initiative, we are asking families, individuals, churches, businesses and groups to carve a unique pumpkin, one that will stand out from all others and bring it to the Park. This will give us a chance to show off some our area’s top pumpkin carvers while adding a personal touch to the program.”
This year marks the first time the event will be held at Wilderness Road State Park. Each year, the Pumpkins in the Park event has continued to grow and the Lee County Tourism Committee decided it was time to expand. “Lee County Tourism is very excited about teaming up with Wilderness Road State Park on this year’s Pumpkins in the Park,” stated tourism chairman Daryl Long. “The park provides the perfect setting and with the inclusion of the haunted trail ride and trunk-or-treat, we expect this year’s event to be the biggest and best we’ve had.”
The event will be highlighted by the Haunted Trail Hayride, a 30 minute trip along a creepy trail featuring historical and spooky scenes along with a few spooks that are sure to generate screams of fun and fright. “The Pumpkins in the Park activities going on at the Mansion are kid-oriented while the Haunted Trail Hayride is more geared toward adults,” stated Brindle. “Younger kids wishing to ride the Haunted Trail Hayride should be accompanied by an adult.”
The Grimm Reaper, Wicked Witch of the SOUTH-erland, and an Indian attack are just a few of the scenes that will provide a holiday scare to riders. “We are finalizing plans, and don’t want to give away all the frights and surprises, but we wanted to offer enough teaser information about the trail ride to generate enthusiasm,” explained Brindle. “We have put a lot of thought into this and I’ve already had many people telling me they would not miss it, so I truly expect a great turnout and a truly unique event!” A storyteller will be on hand to provide entertainment for those waiting in line, brave enough to take on the haunted trail ride.
The park and tourism committee recently received a boost in their efforts to provide an entertaining holiday event with more than $400 worth of Halloween props generously donated by Carla Crumley, of Ewing.
Another intriguing aspect to the night of fright will be a community-based Trunk or Treat. To make the Trunk or Treat a success, the park is asking for community support and participation. “We would like to see area churches, businesses, organizations, groups and families get involved and help us truly make this a community event. We already have several churches committed to handing out candy, as well as the Thomas Walker Volunteer Rescue Squad and even a few individuals and families,” stated Brindle. “Because of the area we live in, many folks would like to hand out candy at Halloween, but only see a few trick-or-treaters due to our rural location. This is why we invite anyone wishing to hand out candy to come and participate. We want to provide a centralized location for kids to get their candy.”
Those planning to participate in the Trunk-or-Treat are asked to call the park office at 276-445-3065.
A costume contest, pet costume contest, pumpkin painting, face-painting and spooky maze will be conducted by Lee County Tourism on the Karlan Mansion lawn. “We will have a lot of the same activities we had at previous Pumpkins in the Park events, and have added a few more thanks to our partnership with the park,” explained Long. Prizes will be awarded for the contests with concessions available on the mansion lawn.
Local school teachers, through a letter from the park, have been encouraged to have their classroom design and construct a scarecrow for display at the event. Those participating should make their scarecrow identifiable with their school’s name and class displayed either on the scarecrow itself, on a sign held by the scarecrow, or in another unique way. “We are asking that the scarecrows be delivered to the park no later than 3:00 pm on Friday, to allow enough time for them to be properly displayed,” stated office specialist Karen Southerland.
The Thomas Walker High School Art 4 students: Corey Yeary, Shawnte Goodman, JW Leaf and Jason Pauley, under the direction of art teacher Angela Giles, created a sign for the event that will be displayed at the park entrance near the large hay spider recently constructed by the park’s maintenance crew.