PARIS — Calling all pumpkin carvers!
The McLaughlin Garden and Homestead needs help carving roughly 600 pumpkins for the 2016 edition of the Jack O’Lantern Spectacular.
On Monday, Oct. 17, volunteers will head to Slattery’s Farm in West Minot – one of the event’s sponsors – to pick the gourds for the annual event, said McLaughlin Garden Executive Director Donna Anderson. An expanded carving room and times will be available this year for people to help create the festive display. People of all ages are welcome to help carve from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 19, and Wednesday, Oct. 20, at the homestead at 97 Main St. in Paris.
“Last year we didn’t do evening hours, but between the Scouts and some of the social groups, they want to come in the evening,” Anderson said, adding a group from Androscoggin Bank – another sponsor of the spectacular – will help carve after work.
In addition to the Scouts, there were dance groups, homeschoolers, other students and members of the Foothills Garden Club who helped with the carving in 2015, according to Anderson.
“This is a huge labor intensive program. This is a really many hands and light work, or even many hands and lighter work, event,” she said, laughing.
The cleaning of the gourds will be held downstairs in the homestead and the actual carving will take place upstairs. If people cannot climb the stairs, they can carve pumpkins downstairs, she said.
“People who are not keen on carving can participate in the cleaning,” Anderson added.
All of the tools and pumpkins will be provided, along with templates for those who don’t want to free-hand their pumpkins. The theme this year is dinosaurs, emojis and insects, but “there will be other people doing what they want to do,” Anderson said.
If people can’t participate in the carving parties, they can pick up a pumpkin and return it carved for the event. If a large group wants to help out, contact Anderson at 743-8820 or email@example.com.
The Jack O’Lantern Spectacular will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 21, and Saturday, Oct. 22, in the garden. The cost is $5 per person.
The illuminated gourds will line the paths and sit in trees and on walls. There will be a giant carved pumpkin and two, 4-foot-by-4-foot dinosaurs set up in the vegetation.
“They will look a little like naturalistic skeletons,” Anderson said. “We try to make it a little spooky but not scary.”
“There is a group that is considering creating a pumpkin fairy house little village,” she added. “The fairy house program we had during the summer was really popular. People enjoyed coming during Garden Illuminated and saw them. It was really fun.”
In addition to the lit up pumpkins, there will be popcorn and warm apple cider for people to enjoy. A photo booth will be set up to capture the night – for people with or without costumes, though costumes are encouraged.Those who carve pumpkins can take theirs home after the event in time for Halloween, Anderson said.
Other sponsors for the event include Stephens Memorial Hospital, Chandler Funeral Home and Cooper Farms.