Barbara Lawlor, Central City. The large, bouncy castle was deflated, sprawled in the parking lot like a pile of plastic rags. Sometimes, in the mountains, when the wind is cascading down the canyons towards the flatlands, you have to cut your losses.
Saturday was icy cold and blustery and the castle at the Central City Pumpkin Patch was in danger of being lofted by the roiling gusts of wind and sent whirling downhill. So, they pulled the plug, but no one seemed to miss it.
Bunches of families were intent on scouting out the perfect pumpkin for carving creepy faces, jagged teeth, crazy eyes and lumpy noses. At least 100 pumpkins formed a maze in the large parking lot just west of Central City. Orange spheres were stacked on top of golden bales of straw against the grey, black and white pebbles piled at the end of the parking lot.
The Main Street Program of Central City sponsored the pumpkin patch as a fundraiser and a fun local event that had nothing to do with gambling but a whole lot to do with building a sense of community.
Central City Fire Protection District volunteers brewed up some rich, sweet hot chocolate and cinnamon apple cider that warmed one’s heart as well as the hands. Wagons were available for those who couldn’t resist the pumpkin call and had way too many to carry. One giant Jack-O-Lantern, with a wicked grin, got most of the hugs and selfies.
Main Street Central City began as a volunteer effort by citizens, businesses, non-profits and government agencies to revitalize Central City’s main street which used to be the hub of social activities before casinos took over the picturesque historic buildings.
“The program uses an approach that advocates a return to community self-reliance, local empowerment and the rebuilding of central business districts based on their assets of unique architecture, personal service, local ownership and a sense of community. Central City was accepted into the program in November 2015.”
Main Street Central City Board Chair Barbara Thielemann sold pumpkins and greeted first timers to Central City. Kids had games and supplies to decorate a pumpkin and a couple of bouncy buildings that managed to stay upright in the wind.
One resident, wearing a suit and tie, picked out a perfect pie pumpkin saying it was a lot more convenient that heading down the hill in search of a pumpkin.
(Originally published in the October 26, 2017 print edition of The Mountain-Ear.)