Syracuse City Pumpkin Walk

October 24-26 at Founder’s Park  6 p.m. – 10 p.m.

Hundreds of intricately carved pumpkins will line the pathways and be on pyramid displays at Founder’s  Park the evenings of Oct 24 through the 26. Some will be carved in true jack-o-lantern style and others will have the outer layer of flesh scraped off to create a pumpkin that glows with elaborate designs.  My experience with observing carved pumpkins consists of each pumpkin standing on its own. But when the Pumpkin Walk Committee and their family members carve upwards of 40 pumpkins each, it becomes more about carving with a theme. Characters from the office, Avengers, Sugar Skulls, Ski Resort logos, and butterflies are a few themes the carvers have used in the past. Uniquely carved pumpkins standing together in a display can be more impressive, or humorous, than each pumpkin on its own.

The journey for these pumpkins begins at Black Island Farm. They donate every pumpkin on display at the pumpkin walk which is around 1000 pumpkins each year! The Pumpkin Walk Committee goes out to the patch designated for the pumpkin walk and collects pumpkins around two weeks before the walk. They bring them home to their families and get a head start carving.

Carved pumpkins getting loaded up to go to the pumpkin walk.

About a week before the event, the Parks and Rec department usually collects the rest of the pumpkins for residents who want to participate in the carving.  Residents can check out a pumpkin similar to how one would check out a library book. Do you want to carve one? Call (801)614-9660 to reserve your pumpkin and pick it up on Oct. 18. Residents will take the pumpkin home, carve it, and bring it to the Pumpkin Walk to display for the community.

The folks on the Pumpkin Walk Committee have a lot of experience in pumpkin carving and they have learned some tricks over the years. They start carving two weeks before the walk and they’ve learned that keeping the moisture inside the pumpkin is the key to making it last longer. They wait to remove the seeds and stringy insides of the pumpkins until a day or two before they are put on display. Vaseline rubbed over the exposed pumpkin flesh helps lock in moisture. Annice Nixon, who is a committee member and a mother to several others,  uses Speedball Linoleum Cutters to carve which you can purchase on amazon for around $13 to $15 if you feel inspired by their craft. They etch designs into the pumpkin without breaking into the hollow portion of the pumpkin and this method of carving also helps to hold in moisture too. Cold air also keeps the pumpkins good for a longer amount of time.

The Pumpkin Walk you experience today is a notable mark of the Montgomery family legacy. Annice Nixon is one of Chester and Beverley Montgomery’s children who continues to contribute around 30 to 40 carved pumpkins each year. As children, she and her siblings carved pumpkins in their family’s shed, but only after they finished their homework. Today, she spreads a big table cloth down in her basement and gets to work.

Jason Child was a neighbor to the Nixon family and got involved with carving in 1983. He stayed involved since then and he and his wife are a part of the Pumpkin Walk Committee today! Their four children Rilee Barnett who is 19, Billy Child who is 14, Payton Child who is 11, and Emmett Child who is 8 all contribute their ideas and carving skills to the pumpkin walk.  The family brings home around 80 pumpkins and they follow a similar pattern to that of the Montgomery’s: Homework first, then carve till your heart’s content. Carving isn’t just a one night project, they work on them day after day during the two weeks until they are completed and the event begins.

 The Pumpkin Walk Committee carves hundreds of pumpkins each year and consists of family and a couple neighbors. The Montgomery family lived and had a preschool in West Point and they started a pumpkin walk on their property for their students. As the years went on, they added spooky scenes and different contraptions and invited the neighbors to walk through and enjoy it. It grew and grew in magnitude until visitors started having trouble finding parking.

Melinda Allred, Liseanne Chapman, and Joanna Gregory are sisters who are on the Pumpkin Walk Committee.

Eventually Melinda Allred, Annice’s daughter and a Syracuse resident, connected with the city and merged their pumpkin walks into one.  Syracuse City hosts the pumpkin walk at Founder’s Park under the condition that the event remains free.  So don’t miss this event showcasing the talents and generosity of the people in your community!

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