Jack O'Lantern Festival shines through clouds
By Merja Lehtinen - ReminderNews
Enfield - posted Mon., Oct. 24, 2011
Looming clouds and darkness created the perfect aura for the annual Jack O’ Lantern Festival on the Enfield town green Oct. 15, a backdrop which was pierced by the brilliant smiles of trick-or-treating youngsters, the sound of lively music and the glow of candles inside of pumpkins. Sponsored by local public and parochial schools, the festival featured bleachers filled with Jack O’Lanterns donated by children and parents from participating schools.
Threat of rain may have cut back on attendance, but those who came had a nice time. School volunteers Dustin Bastarche and Emilia Deslippe were hoping that more students and parents would show up with pumpkins, while Darren Ketchale from Whitney School had plenty of pumpkins to set up in his section of the bleachers.
But nothing could dampen the spirits of children and clowns dancing to the beat of the DJ. The music was lively, fun, and could be heard throughout the green.
Ever since her grandchildren started school, Susan Streeter, of Enfield, has entertained them at the annual festival. “I’m the one who brings them every year,” she said. “I love to do things with the grandchildren.”
Both Alyssa, 11, of JFK Middle School, and her brother Craig, 9, of Prudence Crandall School, displayed intricately carved pumpkins that they donated. Alyssa’s Jack O’ Lantern featured a guitar in silhouette, because she is just learning to play guitar, while Craig had a toothy skull figure carved into his pumpkin with the teeth in just the right place.
Annabelle the Clown from Pioneer Valley #225 of clowns was dancing along the path to join Zippy, Papa Jamz, Scooter, and Stitches – other members of Valley # 225. The Valley clowns were gifting little children with animals and other creatures made from balloons, including a charming Lady Bug. “We mostly do this for charitable causes, but they give us a small stipend to cover expenses,” said Annabelle.
Jacqueline, 5, Katelyn, 7, and Alyssa, 7, were enthralled with the shaped balloons. As they waited for their turn to get a balloon creature, children watched the clowns dance and perform. Soon there was a long line of families and children. Andrea, 8, dressed as a classy witch, and Katelyn enjoyed watching Stitches create her balloon friends, while she made everyone laugh.
“We are always learning, making people laugh, and each of us have different skills – from magic to making balloons and face painting. We all pop balloons,” said Stitches.
Volunteers June Barnett, Maureen Haynes, and Karen Booth were selling candles and bracelets that children could buy for $1 if they donated a pumpkin. The bracelets served as passes to trick or treat. Parents who forgot to donate a pumpkin could still buy a bracelet for their children in return for a small donation.
Hay rides, glow sticks, and games were popular, in addition to the candy stations. Local first responders, including firemen, police and the beautifully-groomed K-9 units were on hand, and the Citizens Emergency Response Team (CERT) was there in force and looking for new members. Anyone interested in training classes on Nov. 1 should contact “PJ” at the Enfield Fire Department on Weymouth Street.