Fall traditions are a special thing. When the the air reaches its signature autumn crispness, my family always try to make one trip to a pumpkin patch, take a walk in the changing leaves, and bake an apple pie. Also, last fall, if you happened to pass my house, you would have seen scenes from various Roald Dahl stories come to life with large, round, orange heads. If it sounds insane, I guarantee you that only a small amount of madness was involved.
I first heard about the Gilroy Pumpkin People Contest two years ago, when during one of my fall walks, I noticed my neighbor suddenly had a spooky pumpkinhead day care scene in her front lawn. I thought it was the coolest thing ever--and then I discovered that the display was actually part of a city-wide contest the Chamber of Commerce puts on. So last year, we decided to enter the contest ourselves with a Roald Dahl theme--we had a pumpkinhead Willy Wonka and Oompa Loompa, a pumpkinhead BFG, a pumpkinhead “James and the Giant Pumpkin,” and a pumpkinhead witch (from the lesser known book and film “The Witches.”)
We won first place in the contest, but that wasn’t even the highlight for me. Here are my top five reasons to enter Gilroy’s Pumpkin People Contest:
Family Time: It’s a fun way to get the whole family involved in the spirit of the season. Last year, we talked about different theme possibilities as a family, and settled on Roald Dahl because I thought it was a good opportunity to introduce our older daughter to some beloved stories from my childhood. She ended up getting really into the theme and had her own suggestions and creative input as we went along. We officially proclaimed the Pumpkin People contest as our new fall family tradition.
Community: This contest is all about bringing the community together. I had so much fun driving around to the different Pumpkin People spots (as provided by the Chamber of Commerce’s map) as well as watching people enjoy my display. I got to know neighbors I’d never talked to before, and even a year later, people walking by will say “you were that house with all the pumpkins!” I think if more people get involved, it could really become something great. A movement, if you will.
Creativity: Creativity gets a bad rap. People think they aren’t creative because they don’t paint stuff on a canvas. Your pumpkin display doesn’t have to look like it was put together by a professional artist (Lord knows mine didn’t.) Creativity is resourcefulness. Creativity is thinking, “hey, we could use this green plant for the Oompa Loompa’s hair.” Creativity is good for the soul, even if you don’t typically dabble in stereotypical “artsy” activities. And of course, if you’re really uncrafty… there’s always Pinterest to guide the way.
It’s Easier than You Think: I think I was at first intimidated by the kind of examples I saw on the Internet about Pumpkin People displays in different parts of the world. But really, it’s as simple as stuffing some old clothing with newspaper, staking it to the ground, and sticking a pumpkin (real or fake) on top. You don’t have to go all out to participate in the fun.
Chance to Win: The top prize is $250! That makes for a good incentive in my mind. There’s no need to spend a lot on the display, not when so much of it can be made from things you have lying around the house. Also, thrift shops are great places for bargains. Or ask your friends to donate items. The $250 prize can then be spent on Halloween candy of course. ;-)
***Only people living in Gilroy can be eligible for the contest prizes. People living in Morgan Hill, San Martin or other parts of the South Valley are more than welcome to build displays, but can’t be considered for the prizes.
Hope this gave you some #pumpkinspiration to get started! Registration must be complete by October 10. Get more info at http://www.gilroy.org/pumpkinpeople/.