By Barb Penner
Over 20 years ago, the Retail Committee of Vanderhoof’s Chamber of Commerce began working to create a safer, more fun, more inclusive Halloween night for residents of town and the surrounding area. As a result, the Halloween Pumpkin Walk was born.
The 1st Pumpkin Walk held in 2000, attracted nearly 2,000 trick or treaters. Since then, the event has been held every Halloween and it has grown.
The first year, about 300 pumpkins were carved and that number has increased to 500.
Pumpkins are carved by local school students and seniors. Additional pumpkins are carved by families and businesses who bring them to the park and there may be as many as 700 lit pumpkins.
Vanderhoof’s Independent Grocers have generously donated the pumpkins nearly every year and crews from Better Buys Furniture, City Furniture and sports groups have done the delivering and picking up from the store to the schools and then to Riverside Park.
Until recently, all the pumpkins were lit with candles but it was discovered that stringing lights and placing the carved pumpkin over a light worked better in windy conditions. This also helped as we didn’t have to purchase single use candles each year as the lights are reused.
Members of service groups have graciously lit the pumpkins in past years and this year the Vanderhoof Cadets are helping with that part again.
Since the first Pumpkin Walk at the park, businesses and service groups have decorated campsites there, and offered candy and treats to the guests. Their displays throughout the years have been fabulous and this year, there will be a record 25 sites to check out.
Temperatures in Vanderhoof on Halloween night have been normally on the cooler side so guests have enjoyed a steamy hot cup of hot chocolate, courtesy of Tim Hortons. Nechako Lumber has supplied firewood so guests could warm up by a fire in the campsites, and this year, Integris Credit Union has partnered with The Vanderhoof Children’s Theatre Group to offer free hot dogs for guests too.
The Pumpkin Walk officially starts at 5 pm on Halloween night but the first trick or treaters begin arriving around 4 pm. The Pumpkin Walk is open to tour through until 8 pm and then guests step out into the field at Riverside Park and watch a brilliant fireworks show together. The show is dismantled right after the fireworks and put away for another year.
The pumpkins are then taken to farms for animals to feed on throughout the winter.
Since the inception of the Pumpkin Walk, businesses, residents, and RCMP have reported that pranking and vandalism on Halloween has been virtually eliminated and that’s another benefit of hosting this great event.
The Pumpkin Walk is free to attend and all ages are encouraged to attend. Consider yourself invited! And last, but not the least we would like to thank New Gold Inc. for being a major sponsor for the event.
If you would like to donate to this fabulous community event, please call The Vanderhoof Chamber of Commerce at 567-2124 or Barb at 567-3397.