The sun was barely cresting the trees Saturday morning when hundreds of area children descended on Ranney Street to collect pumpkins.
Red and Linda Cortner, along with several friends, arranged 700 pumpkins on the ground as part of the Cortners’ annual pumpkin giveaway.
“Look at all the happy kids today,” Red said of the children clamoring over pumpkin piles.
The giveaway, which was scheduled for 8 a.m., got off to an early start, Red said.
“People started showing up at 7:30,” he said.
By 11:30 a.m., all pumpkins were gone.
“My wife didn’t even get one for herself,” Red said with a laugh. “Now, I’m in hot water.”
The Cortners have been giving away pumpkins every October for five years.
Becky Fritz, a mother of three daughters, said Saturday’s event was her first.
“We’re excited that they could get some pumpkins,” Becky said of her daughters. “We’ll carve them next weekend, and we’ll be all set.”
Becky’s daughters said they already knew how they would carve them.
“I’m going to make a scary face with big, huge oval eyes and a square nose,” said Millie Fritz, 7.
“Mine’s going to be a cat face,” said Abby Fritz, 9.
Ida Gordon, a friend of the Cortners, said she attends the giveaway every year just to watch the event unfold.
“I like to see Red and Linda do it. It’s a trip,” Gordon said. “I think Red is the real kid of the bunch.”
Red said he plans to keep hosting the annual event for years to come.
“I’ll do it until I die,” he said.
Another pumpkin-themed event took place on the east side of town Saturday.
Wyman Museum hosted its second annual Pumpkin Patch, a fundraiser for the museum’s Winter Festival, which will take place in February.
Saturday’s event offered pumpkin painting, scarecrow making, a hay maze and more for area children. Hundreds of pumpkins were offered for purchase as part of the fundraising.
“This was a huge success,” said Nicky Boulger, office manager for the museum. “We were sold out of pumpkins by 1 p.m.”
Boulger said the event raised more than $4,000.
This year’s event also featured a pumpkin pie contest.
Julie Whitehead’s pumpkin pie won first place in the judged competition, and Jennie Delgado’s pie won the award for people’s choice.
Delgado said there were eight pies in the competition, some of which were infused with honey and pecans.
“Mine was just plain pumpkin pie,” Delgado said of her winning entry.
Craig resident Matt Laman brought his three daughters to both events Saturday.
“I think it’s a pretty nice thing for the kids to be able to do,” he said. “I think it’s great.”
“And earlier today we went down to the free pumpkin deal. It’s amazing that people still do this kind of stuff in the communities for children. There’s hardly anything for kids to do, anymore. I think it’s great.”
Laman’s middle daughter, Kasadi, 8, said she planned to carve her pumpkin and then roast the seeds.
Kasadi said there’s a trick to making the seeds tasty.
“The real secret is to put anything — and I mean anything — on them,” said Kasadi.