Residents, businesses join socially distant PumpkinFest

WESTFIELD – Westfield on Weekends is hosting its annual PumpkinFest this fall, though it will have a pandemic twist.

Since the event draws thousands of people downtown, organizers decided to keep the spirit of PumpkinFest alive while social distancing. Instead of one day of events on the Green, PumpkinFest will have several ways to celebrate.

PumpkinFest will kick-off Oct. 16 with a Drive-by Haunted House Tour as well as a Scarecrow Trail. Both attractions are spread throughout the city. Residents and businesses can participate in the Haunted House Tour by decorating the exterior of their home or business. Although it’s called the “haunted” tour, participants do not need to create a scary Halloween display, just showcase their festive fall creativity. However, the spooky and creepy are also encouraged.

For the Scarecrow Trail, residents and businesses can build their own scarecrow from scratch or purchase a scarecrow kit to decorate.

So far, there are 20 Haunted House Tour participants and 23 Scarecrow Trail participants, including Amelia Park which will host a “haunted garden” complete with a child-friendly graveyard and spooky gazebo.  Anyone who wishes to join either or both should send a message to the WOW Facebook page.

There is an online map sponsored by Witalisz and Associates marking each home on the tour and trail. So far, the map has been viewed over 2,200 times. Those taking the tour are encouraged to vote for their favorite homes on the Witalisz & Assoc. Facebook page.

PumpkinFest Co-chair “Farmer” Robert Plasse. (THE WESTFIELD NEWS PHOTO)

On Oct. 17, a PumpkinFest Drive-in movie is slated for 6:00 p.m. at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Westfield. The family-friendly Halloween movie will be announced closer to the event.

PumpkinFest co-chairs Bob Plasse and Jason Polan said they wanted to keep the event going and bring smiles to residents who have been doing a good job of staying home and social distancing.

“The WOW team thought long and hard about what to do with our 2020 PumpkinFest event. We were disappointed that we had to cancel MusicFest, we weren’t ready to do the same for PumpkinFest,” said Polan. “We had plans to execute a Haunted House tour as part of PumpkinFest from the get-go and making it a drive-by seemed simply natural in these COVID times. We were inspired by our partnership with the Boys and Girls Club and the success they had seen with their other three movies, so we thought, let’s continue and elevate that success. As for the scarecrow trail, it’s something that WOW had success creating in 2007 and 2008, so with the help of Gary Midura, we put it all together to re-launch a socially distant, safe, fun, updated Scarecrow Trail.”

Keeping PumpkinFest was important to WOW.

“We felt strongly that we needed to do something — not because of fundraising or any other reason, but simply because we need a level of joy in this really tough year,” said Polan. “Any funds we raise will help us survive and plan free events in the future but our primary motivation for continuing PumpkinFest throughout COVID is simply to provide joy to this community!”

PumpkinFest supporting sponsors include Westfield on Weekends, Boys & Girls Club of Greater Westfield, Witalisz & Associates, Westfield Gas & Electric, The Westfield News/Reminder Publishing, Westfield Bank, Tru Blu Print & Grafix and New England Custom Countertops. For more information visit the WOW Facebook page or westfieldonweekends.com.

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