By Andrea Tomkins –
The premise of Anita Grace’s “pumpkin path” is charmingly simple: collect some jack o’lanterns on November 1, light them up, and give the neighbourhood a second chance to enjoy them.
She has been organizing the “pumpkin path” for the past three years. It’s not exactly Pumkinferno, but one can certainly argue that as a community event it is even more illuminating.
This annual undertaking originally started out as a small display of jack o’lanterns at Iona Park but after its first year, Anita realized the pumpkin path would be enjoyed by more people at a central location. Byron pathway was the clear winner with its long stretch of sidewalk, accessibility, and lighting.
Since then, the event has grown each year, from 20 pumpkins in year one to over 100 last year. Anita wants to double that number this year, and hopes Kitchissippi residents will return again, not just to enjoy the sights, but to donate their jack o’lanterns to help create the ultimate pumpkin path.
Residents are encouraged to drop their jack o’lanterns where the Byron pathway intersects Island Park during the afternoon or early evening of November 1. A small crew of volunteers will move them into position along the path and light the candles as it gets dark.
Not only is the pumpkin path an inexpensive night out, but it gives artistic gourd carvers a second chance to show off their work. It’s a low-key, candy-free activity for families of all ages. Although costumes aren’t mandatory, the kiddos can use the opportunity to get one extra wear out of this year’s costumes.
The lights remain lit until they blow themselves out.
It is a sight to behold, says Anita, who has been inspired to try some new carving techniques on her pumpkins. “There is some really amazing artistry,” she says. “I think that’s one of the great things about this. Some people put a lot of time into their pumpkins and it’s wonderful to get to see.”
“I certainly have tried to step it up since I’ve been doing this,” she laughs.
Other than carving techniques, she has learned a few extra lessons along the way as well. Last year, some of the pumpkins were smashed, so she reached out to Councillor Jeff Leiper who arranged for pick up the next morning. This year she’ll be out early on November 2, hauling the pumpkins to the curb for disposal. She’s hoping extra volunteers with gardening gloves and a wheelbarrow will expedite the process. Also on Anita’s wishlist: a few residents to come hang out with the pumpkins in the afternoon before they’re lit to help prevent accidents or vandalism. Extra tea lights are welcome too. She’s hoping people will toss some extras in with their jack o’lanterns when dropping them off.
Anita recommends walking or biking to the pumpkin path, but for those who are driving and not familiar with the area, she recommends plugging 174 Bassett Lane into Google Maps as the closest possible street address.
“These events wouldn’t be as fantastic as they are if people didn’t buy in and take ownership, and come out,” says Anita. “People just make it happen. It’s so amazing.”