Meet George Jetson . . . and many other TV characters at the Pumpkin Walk
By Brook Cox
NORTH LOGAN - Pumpkins, squash and other garden vegetables will be transformed into TV characters for this year's Pumpkin Walk, following a theme of "Blast From T.V. Past."
Organizers said there will be approximately 50 entries this year, depicting scenes from classic TV programs. The Pumpkin Walk is free and will take place in Elkridge Park, 1150 E. 2500 North. It will be open daily Oct. 27-30 from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m.
The Pumpkin Walk was started 15 years ago by Ida and Wally Buetler as an activity for neighborhood kids. They held it on their farm and Ida would serve cookies and cider, said MaryEllen McKenna, chairwoman.
After a while running it got to be too much for the Beutlers, and the city asked if they could take it over. It was still held on the Buetler Farm for seven years until it got too big and was moved to Elkridge Park, McKenna said.
The first year around 100 kids came, and by the second year, word had spread so quickly that the Beutlers had more than 1,000 guests. This year an expected 50,000 to 70,000 people will attend, depending on the weather, McKenna said.
There is no charge to walk through the displays and McKenna said they want to keep it that way.
"Halloween has taken on a satanic theme, and we're able to provide a fun place for families to go at no cost," McKenna said.
All their help is volunteer labor. "We do it because we love it," McKenna said. The Pumpkin Walk has been given some budget money from the city. McKenna said this money is used to buy T-shirts, candles to light up the pumpkins and seeds to plant pumpkins for the next year.
The Pumpkin Walk committee usually grows about 2,000 to 3,000 pumpkins every year to be used for the event, but this year because of the short growing season, they were only able to grow around 1,000 to 1,500 pumpkins.
This year's pumpkins were grown in a field directly east of Elkridge Park. This field will be used as a parking lot during the Pumpkin Walk. Four hundred to 600 of these pumpkins will be carved, lit with candles, and placed along the pathways on straw bales, between the booths. The rest will be used in the TV scenes and various other places.
In past Pumpkin Walks, pumpkins have been used for a cow's head and udder, a dragon's bumpy stomach, a cat's body, and much more. Pumpkins are cut in half to make pig's snouts, and squash has been used for human legs. Many pumpkins have been painted with faces and other pictures. Potatoes have even been used to represent mice. The possibilities are endless and people can use their imaginations. "Who knows what we'll see this year," McKenna said.
Rosemund Melarten, a retired school teacher, has dressed up as a witch at the Pumpkin Walk almost every year since the it began. She said Melartin dyes her skin green, takes out her false teeth, lets her long gray hair down, and dresses as a witch to greet guests at the Pumpkin Walk. "Last year she wasn't feeling well, and we had some substitute witches come in, and the kids noticed and kept asking where the other witch was. The kids just love her," McKenna said.
Along with families and organizations, local businesses display entries. Macey's is creating a scene from The Incredible Hulk, Wal-Mart is doing a scene from The Jetsons, and a local veterinary clinic wants to do a scene from Tarzan. McKenna also expects to see scenes from The Flintstones, The Addams Family, Gilligan's Island, I Love Lucy, and many more. McKenna said they are trying not to have any TV program displayed twice.
After the Pumpkin Walk is over there's a lot of clean-up. "We try not to waste anything," McKenna said. "We recycle year-to-year." Farmers come and take the straw to use on their farms, and the pumpkins are smashed and used for pig feed. The Pumpkin Walk committee asks those who paint pumpkins to use paint without lead or other harmful chemicals, so that the pigs and other animals that eat the smashed pumpkins won't be harmed. Many of the scene props will be saved for next year.
McKenna said it is not too late to enter a scene in the Pumpkin Walk.
Volunteers are still needed as well, and anyone can call her at 753-7182
or 787-7401 with questions or offers of help.
Archived Months:September 1998