Lucy Tran loads up her wagon and hauls her two pumpkins to the car.
Photo by Shirley Ruhe.
The pumpkins are everywhere — gigantic and perfect, tiny and a little unusual and shaped like swans. It's the week before Halloween and the Pumpkin Patch sponsored by Emmanuel Church-on-the-Hill is bustling with customers.
Jan Maas and Lissa Soergel, both church members, are manning the table.
"We opened 25 years ago and are celebrating our 25th anniversary. The mayor came the first day this year to give us a certificate," Maas said.
Because of this year's calendar, the season has been longer than usual. "We always open the last Sunday in September. We call it pumpkin Sunday; it's like a liturgical part of the calendar for us," Maas said. Their table offers stuffed fabric pumpkins, orange knitted hats, pumpkin earrings at $5, baked cranberry-nut bread and ghost lollipops at 50 cents each.
A table nearby has a sign "pricing your pumpkin" with 13 size samples ranging from $2-40. Buyers match their pumpkin to the nearest size of the sample. "Of course," Maas said,"they' never exactly match."
Lucy Tran and her 4-year-old sister, Nora, are searching for the perfect pumpkin with their father, Maiky, and their grandfather who is taking pictures. Maiky said, "They get to choose two each. We'll try to carve them but we've never done this before." The girls wander through the pumpkins until something just strikes them and that's the one.
The pumpkins come from Navajos who grow them in New Mexico and drive them here and unload them from big trucks. Maas says they normally make about $100,000, and 60 percent of the proceeds go to the Navajos, and 40 percent to local, state and national charities including ALIVE!, OAR, Oral Rehydration Project and Carpenter's Shelter.