The Halloween spirit lived on at the annual Pumpkin Promenade Friday night.
The event, hosted by the Two Rivers Neighbourhood Group, brought out crowds of people and yes, pumpkins.
Lots of them.
“Last year, we had over 800 lit pumpkins, and about 300 to 500 people walked through to take a look,” said Alisha Arnold, neighbourhood support worker with Two Rivers Neighbourhood Group.
Visitors followed a long path, encircling the grounds at Tytler Public School.
Everyone was invited to bring their pumpkins in that morning, and some were picked up along the curbside for those living in the are.
During the day, pumpkins were carefully placed along the pathway by volunteers including students from the Community Environment Leadership Program (CELP) run by the Upper Grand District School Board.
CELP is semester-long, four credit grade 10 program which focuses on enhancing environmental awareness and empowering student leadership in areas of environmental and social issues.
“They have helped us out for the last few years. And we have had so much community support and people wanting to help out every year,” Arnold said.
“The purpose for this, is to get everyone out and bring them together. It’s all about community engagement. It has now become our biggest fundraiser which helps support the programs we offer at Two Rivers. The event has been running for about eight years and since I’ve been involved the last four years, the Pumpkin Promenade has just continued to grow.”
Hundreds of jack o lanterns lit the way of a slightly spooky trail. Visitors from all over the neighbourhood and Guelph couldn’t wait to catch a glimpse of some the creative carvings, some comical and some creepy.
And many children were on the hunt looking for their own creations, which also helped light the way.
Running around from one carved masterpiece to another, they eagerly placed flags on their favourite choices for the “best carved pumpkin”.
Visitors followed the Community Parade Band as they made their way along the pathway of pumpkins.
Some tasty treats including hot chocolate and popcorn were available and a fire juggler continued to awe spectators throughout the night.
“We are so lucky to have so much support. We have the Community Parade Band take part and circus arts. We’ve had belly dancers and face painters. And all of them come on their own time, year after year,” Arnold said.
Two Rivers Neighbourhood Group provides services, events and programs to community members living in the Two Rivers Neighbourhood, an area bounded by Victoria Road, Elizabeth Street and the Eramosa and Speed Rivers.
Programs include movie nights, potlucks yoga classes, parent and child drop-ins, Kids Skill Share classes as well as various sporting activities.
The self-serve Emergency Food Cupboard is also available to community members in need and the neighbourhood group has also developed two community garden spaces.
The goal is to foster connections to each other, the earth and food security while inspiring a sense of community.
Both gardens use strictly organic gardening practices and were designed with personal plots in mind allowing community members the opportunity to grow their own food and learn from each other.
“Our neighbourhood group is unique in that we have such diversity here and it’s growing all the time,” Arnold said.
“We are always looking for ways to bring everyone together regardless of differences whether it may economics or whatever, it’s all about community.”
Arnold says the local food market has also been a hit as well in trying to bring the community together.
During the summer months, community vendors make their way to the neighbourhood, selling local produce, hot food and crafts.
The market came together through a partnership of the Two Rivers Neighbourhood Group, the Guelph Neighbourhood Support Coalition, the Upper Grand District School Board, and Transition Guelph.
“We are such a large group so many of our events have to be outside and the Pumpkin Promenade is one great way,” she said.
Once the event is over, local farmers will collect the pumpkins for reuse.
“This event has become so big,” Arnold said.
“The Pumpkin Promenade is just another way of bringing our community together and with all of these pumpkins all lit up, people really want to come see this.”