The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, October 29, 2004

Features

A sure sign of Halloween in Carlisle
Third grader Whitney Cook is all smiles as she delivers her decorated pumpkin to the Gleason Public Library on Tuesday afternoon. (Photo by Midge Eliassen)
This year, it's not as easy to tell that it's time for Halloween just by looking around. Usually by this time the trees have lost their leaves and their bare, black branches reach up like skeletal fingers into a sky streaked with scudding clouds. This year, however, we have enjoyed the longest, most spectacular foliage season in recent memory. There is still plenty of color dressing the trees, delaying that dark, windswept atmosphere that usually signals All Hallows' Eve.
In Carlisle, however, there's never a question that it's nearly Halloween. At Gleason Public Library, the children's area is decorated with spiders and webs, books on costumes, mysteries, and ghost stories are displayed, and an enormous crop of very interesting pumpkins seems to appear each year. On Tuesday night, October 26, the Great Pumpkin Spectacular ushered in Halloween in Carlisle for the twenty-first year.
For those who have never participated in this event or who are new to town, this is a treasured tradition. Children in kindergarten to third grade carve or decorate pumpkins and bring them to the library during the last week of October, and on the night of the Great Pumpkin Spectacular, they enjoy a storyteller (this year, the Toe Jam Puppet Band) at the Carlisle School. Then they form a flashlight procession back down to the library where they gather to cheer the winners in four categories of pumpkin art for each grade: carved, decorated, carved and decorated, and lucky winner from a drawing. Costumes are encouraged and refreshments are provided.
A spider descends the chimney at the Bog house on Curve Street in time for Halloween (photo: Ellen Huber)
On Tuesday night, more than fifty children crowded into the children's area with their parents to hear the results of the judging. This isn't a fierce competition: Carlisle kids cheer everybody and everybody has fun.
I've been a judge for the last two Great Pumpkin Spectaculars, and I can attest that it's a tough challenge to pick winners out of so many creatively rendered pumpkins. They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and they can be anywhere on the scale from beautiful to hilarious. This year, for example, there was a pumpkin that looked as if Jackson Pollock had painted it, one made into an effigy of Senator and presidential candidate John Kerry, another that had been decorated to look like a world globe, a Cinderella coach for Barbie, a snowman. Others were abstract, were dioramas, or had multiple faces, and used all sorts of decorating material from pipe cleaners to rocks and parsnips. Naturally, there were some great Red Sox pumpkins this year, as well as one decorated to represent the ghost of a New York Yankee.
Every entry was a delight, and the judges had no trouble entering into the spirit of the evening (pun intended). New to the judging this year was the chair of Carlisle's Board of Selectmen, Tim Hult, who came dressed as a Red Sox fan, complete with season ticket. Theresa Kvietkauskas, former Library Trustee and Friends President, was an effective witch, sporting long gray hair and skeleton earrings, and I swept around in an Italian Renaissance number that turned me into Kate, Shakespeare's shrew. Costumed library staff members Marty Seneta and Kay Edelberg had the whole event tightly organized, and we were assisted as well by a number of hard-working high school students who served refreshments and categorized pumpkins. Every participant received a ribbon, and the winners received books. This is a Carlisle tradition for all ages, and now that we have so many spectacular pumpkins to light and decorate our front doorsteps, we're ready for that special night when the ghosts and goblins appear and shout, "Trick or Treat!"

2004 The Carlisle Mosquito