Annual WHS Pumpkin Festival adjusts for pandemic

Casey Friedman, Co-editor-in-chief

Every fall crowds gather on the Town Green for raffles, games, and pumpkin carving at the high school’s annual Pumpkin Festival. This year though, like with most other traditions, Pumpkin Festival will be online, asynchronous, and socially distanced. This virtual festival will consist of an exercise fundraiser and a virtual pumpkin patch event from October 18 through 25 to benefit Camp Sunshine. 

“This is a way for everybody to participate within the safety of their own areas, still have a fun time, and build some community,” senior and planning committee member Jackie Liu said.

Participants will have the option to run, walk, or bike to raise funds for Camp Sunshine. The distances include 5 kilometers, 10 kilometers, a half marathon, and a full marathon, which can be measured and completed incrementally throughout the week using tracking apps or s

martwatches. 

We’re hoping to see everybody on the streets and trails of Weston, maybe with a Halloween costume on, or some fun themed or color-coordinated looks,” Pumpkin Fest advisor and English teacher Erin McCarty added. “People can get creative and make it the best that they can, given the circumstances of this year.”

The Great Pumpkin Run/Walk/Roll as it is called, will be tracked on Instagram by the account @westonpumpkinfest. Pictures of each participant’s routes or activities can be sent in to be posted and celebrated.

“Students should definitely get involved because this is such an easy way to fundraise for a great cause and it is a fun way to raise money as well,” senior and committee member Shraddha Lulla said.

Along with the outdoor activity options, there will also be a virtual pumpkin patch three times during the week-long event. Younger participants can sign up to join high school volunteers on Zoom to play games and engage in festive crafts and activities. 

Younger children will still be able to participate in some of the same activities that they would have done during the regular Pumpkin Festival event,” McCarty explained.

The virtual nature of the event and additional safety regulations have provided many challenges for this year’s planning committee.

“Usually we have resources from the year before to build off of, but this is just all new,” Liu explained. “We had to reconfigure everything.”

Despite the many difficulties the group has faced, McCarty described how the group is coming together to put on this annual event.

“We’re working through it. We’re having to problem solve very quickly on the fly, but we have a really awesome leadership group this year,” McCarty said.

While a lot is different this year, the planning committee still aims to maintain both a donation to Camp Sunshine and the communal entertainment that Pumpkin Fest creates each fall. 

“All of the proceeds are benefiting Camp Sunshine, which is a retreat in Maine for terminally ill children and their families and Weston has always been one of their big supporters so this is a tradition that we need to carry on,Liu said. “I really hope that we can preserve our community spirit in the face of this challenge.”

 

For more information on how to volunteer, donate, attend or participate in this year’s Pumpkin Festival please visit @westonpumpkinfest on Instagram or email mccartye@weston.org.