(Seguin) — Get ready to roll up your sleeves. That’s because another truckload of pumpkins will be arriving for the annual Pumpkin Patch at First United Methodist Church.
This marks one of the favorite times of the year for the church as its lawn turns into a sea of orange and the perfect location for family photos, school tours, pet adoptions, and storytelling.
Pastor Ray Perales says the first batch of pumpkins was delivered to the church lawn on Oct. 1. He says luckily the Seguin High School football team and members of the Church of Latter-Day Saints were on hand to help unload the truck. This Saturday, another crop of volunteers will be needed to help get the pumpkins off the truck and into the hands of local families.
“We are hoping that we get similar numbers on the 15th when we get the second shipment. Anybody can participate that is able bodied basically. If you can move a pumpkin, you can participate. The truck is scheduled to arrive at 9 o’clock. That said, they were scheduled for 9 o’clock on the first and they got there early. But right now, as far as we know, they should be there at 9 am on the 15th of Oct. We typically get a few thousand pumpkins with each delivery so we will be getting a few thousand there and that does get tiresome hauling all of those pumpkins out. We were also fortunate that this year, the way that they sent the pumpkins at least for the first batch, they sent them in crates on pallets so were able to just with a forklift get them out of the truck because in the past we had to go into the truck and the pumpkins were just loose and so we made a human chain and it just goes down the line and gets into the patch eventually versus this way where the box gets put into the patch and then people reach into the box and they get the pumpkins out and they go and arrange them,” said Perales.
Pumpkins USA has been helping churches and non-profits like FUMC host fundraising patches since 1974. After Hurricane Hugo wiped out the crop from its original farming location in North Carolina in 1989, the organization moved its crop production to the Navajo Indian Nation in Farmington, NewMexico. Today, close to 2,000 loose pumpkins — that fill up two 18-wheelers — are delivered to Seguin. A variety of pumpkins and gourds are received within a few days of being harvested and are trucked to the local church for unloading.
Perales says this next batch will brighten the scene even more for continued traditions at the patch – traditions that this year will be in full force.
“I guess it’s almost a return to what we were doing before. With COVID, we didn’t have the participation with the schools that we would usually get and so typically, they’ll bring the students over like as a field trip but with COVID, they weren’t really doing any field trips. So, we were taking pumpkins to the schools. They would call us and say we need x number of pumpkins, and we would take them. But this year, I believe that Terry Webb, she said they have over 4,000 students coming all together and so we are really looking forward to that and of course, they come at different times, different days but they come from all over the county. I think we even have some that come from Gonzales. It might be the elementary schools. Some of them are daycares and they bring them for their field trips, and we do a pumpkin science presentation with them. They do a little coloring station. They have a story time, so we try to make it as interesting for the kids as possible. We make sure that every single one of them leaves with a pumpkin and so we’ve already set those aside,” said Perales.
Although a church fundraiser, Perales says the patch is gift to the community.
“I think it’s just a great event for the community. I mean when COVID hit, that was one of the debates, what do we have the pumpkin patch? Do we have Trunk or Treat? And I was very much in favor of having one specifically for our families and our children. That we had something that was so out of the norm for so long and had people not be able to do anything that they traditionally do every year. So it was like the family that goes to the patch every year and takes pictures every year – and you can look at their kids grow up in the patch every year and to not have that – you feel the impact a little bit more. You are missing out on all these things, but the patch is still there. We had this normal thing. Despite everything that was going on, we had this normal thing,” said Perales.
The Pumpkin Patch, which is located at the corner of North Austin and College streets, will be open through Monday, Oct. 31. The patch is open daily from 10 am to 7 pm and from noon to 7 pm on Sundays. On Sunday afternoons, FUMC youth will be on site offering fun activities for the kids.
Families are also encouraged to mark their calendars for a pair of special events happening at the patch this year. They include the Pumpkins & Puppies/Blessing of the Animals and Rummage Sale on Saturday Oct. 22. The church will also host its annual Trunk or Treat on Monday, Oct. 31 Halloween night.