Pumpkintown returns bigger than ever

By Kevin Hotary - Staff Writer
East Hampton - posted Wed., Oct. 19, 2011
Like the real people who visit Pumpkintown, pumpkin 'children' can enjoy a hayride as well. Photos by Kevin Hotary.
Like the real people who visit Pumpkintown, pumpkin 'children' can enjoy a hayride as well. Photos by Kevin Hotary.

Just as it has done every fall for the last 18 years, Paul’s and Sandy’s Too Garden Center has given over part of its property to the town – Pumpkintown, that is – for the enjoyment of kids of all ages, and to help raise money for the Sandy Peszynski Breast Cancer Foundation (SPBCF.com). Consisting of an entire village, including a post office, jail, country store and barbershop among the many buildings, Pumpkintown is populated by more than 58 pumpkin-headed “people.”  Visitors to Pumpkintown can walk through the village, exploring the buildings and the characters, walk a hay maze or maneuver through a tire obstacle course, among numerous other activities. 

Opening in 1993, Pumpkintown “started as an idea that my father came up with,” said Karen Peszynski Clark.  Starting with just a few pumpkin characters in front of the store, Pumpkintown has shown a continual evolution to the current village.  Clark said that planning for Pumpkintown usually begins in early August, with setup taking about six weeks to complete. 

And Pumpkintown continues to grow.  This year has seen the addition of “The Ride,” a nearly mile-long hay ride through the Pumpkintown forest across the street from the store.  The Ride takes visitors through an extension of Pumpkintown, showcasing more than 30 new characters, their homes and their places of business. “That was our biggest addition this year,” said Clark, of The Ride.  And, she said, there is plenty of room for further expansion of the ride in future years.

“The ride is meant to capture the essence of everything the original Pumpkintown has to offer, and to apply that to an enjoyable hayride,” said Dan Peszynski, co-owner of Paul’s and Sandy’s Too.

Twenty-five percent of all admissions to Pumpkintown is donated to the Sandy Peszynski Breast Cancer Foundation, which was founded in 2009 in honor of Paul’s and Sandy’s Too cofounder, Sandy Peszynski, who died in 2007, after a 25-year struggle with breast cancer.  Clark said that she expects this year’s donation from admissions to rival that of the Pumpkintown Prom and Party, which is usually the biggest fundraiser for the foundation, she said.

This year’s prom, which included an auction of various goods and services donated by area businesses, was the fourth sponsored by Pumpkintown, and was held Oct. 2 at Angelico’s Lake House.  Clark estimated that about 150 to 175 people attended the event, which raised about $22,000.

“The Peszynski family is really amazing,” said East Hampton resident Amanda Jacobsen, who was one of the many who attended the prom, donning a pink wig in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. 

Amazing may be an understatement, as the Peszynski’s, through Pumpkintown events and other donations throughout the year, have raised about $100,000 for the foundation, all of which is then donated equally to the Middlesex Cancer Center and the Hartford Hospitals Partnership for Breast Care.

Pumpkintown is located at 93 East High Street, and is open between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. every day, through Oct 31.  Admission is $4 on weekends, and $1 on weekdays.  The cost of the hayride is $6.

“Providing the locals with a fun place to bring the kids on the weekends at a reasonable price is what it’s all about,” said Peszynski.

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