The Greenbelt Pumpkin Festival kicked off last weekend, starting with the annual pumpkin carving in Roosevelt Center on Friday.
Despite the rainy weather all afternoon, the community showed up in the evening to excitedly pick out their pumpkins and get to carving. Thankfully, multiple community members came together and provided their personal pop-up canopies to keep carving stations nice and dry for guests.
As a community-funded event, the pumpkin festival reached $3,015 in donations from their GoFundMe as of Sunday. The money went towards the cost of pumpkins, carving supplies, and candles to light up the carved pumpkins at night.
Donations are part of what keeps this annual event entirely free for the public to attend and partake in. Stacy Stewart, the event coordinator of this year’s festival, explained that they never have an issue with fundraising because the community loves this event and is happy to help make it happen.
“As long as we start asking early enough, Greenbelters will empty out their pockets,” said Stewart. Fundraising usually starts in early September.
This year was the first year that the Greenbelt Co-op provided the pumpkins for the festival. Stewart said it was much easier to do it this way since the pumpkins were delivered from the vendor directly to Roosevelt Center in one trip, rather than having to coordinate with multiple sources and collect pumpkins from multiple locations.
If Stewart coordinates the festival next year, she would love to again get the pumpkins through the Co-op and support the local business. “They support us, we support them.”
Within ten minutes of the festival beginning, the carving stations were already filling up, and patrons even took to park benches and extra, uncovered tables to get to work on their pumpkins. People of all ages attended the event; children, teenagers, and entire families came out for the festivities, each seeming very pleased with their carvings.
Lymore Hauetman and her family just moved here from Israel. Her husband grew up in Greenbelt and his parents have introduced their family to all of the local events. Hauetman says it is one of her favorite parts about living here. “Greenbelt always does such really nice things for the community.”
Hauetman’s family has enjoyed the Labor Day parade, weekly bingo, live music at the New Deal Cafe, and the Pumpkin Festival. She said her kids had been looking forward to the pumpkin carving for weeks.
The Pumpkin Festival got its start in 1987 when there was a potential sale of the forest area surrounding Greenbelt for the development of houses and apartment buildings. Community members protested the idea by organizing community events and fundraisers that brought attention to and appreciation of the natural resources at risk.
In 1988, the Pumpkin Walk became one of those community events. Community members would meet in the North Woods to walk along the lit-up jack-o-lanterns and appreciate the natural beauty and Halloween spirit. The Pumpkin Walk has continued since (except for 2020) and has now expanded into an entire festival.
This year, the Pumpkin Festival consists of four events over two weekends. This weekend was the pumpkin carving in Roosevelt Center, the Pumpkin Walk in the North Woods, and the Fall Fest in Schrom Hills. Visit Springhill Lake Recreation Center on October 27th for more fall fun!