A couple hours into the weekend collection hours for this year’s Great Pumpkin Challenge, pumpkins were already arriving at 14 Main Street, where the entire collection will be displayed on Halloween.
This is the third year Newtown High School sophomore Mackenzie Page has challenged residents to carve a pumpkin, drop it off for display at her home at 14 Main Street, and offer a suggested donation of $5.
In 2011 Mackenzie began The Great Pumpkin Challenge to support family friend Zoe McMorran, who was battling brain cancer. That first year donations raised went to the McMorran family and the American Cancer Association.
In August Mackenzie told The Bee her decision last year to donate part of the donations to The Hole In The Wall Gang Camp, Paul Newman’s nonprofit organization for seriously ill children, will be expanded this year with all of the collected money going to the camp.
By noon on Saturday, scaffolding was being assembled to eventually display the pumpkin collection and volunteers were helping to oversee the collection. Collection hours ran from 10 am until 5 pm on both Saturday, October 26, and Sunday, October 27.
Last week, Mackenzie told The Bee, “We’re encouraging everyone who carves a pumpkin to come out on Halloween and see them all lit up.”
Mackenzie said pumpkins will be collected through Halloween, with Halloween collection hours running from 3 pm to 6 pm. By Tuesday, October 29, Mackenzie said 156 pumpkins had been collected, surpassing the 2012 and 2011 collections, which were 93 and 149 respectively.
“I’m really happy with how it is going,” Mackenzie said.
For those who stop by 14 Main Street on Thursday, October 31, for Halloween, Mackenzie said there will be a number of pumpkins to look for, including an intricate Disney Castle carved pumpkin and one pumpkin with an eye designed into it.
“It is definitely worth coming out to see,” said Mackenzie.
For those who cannot make it to drop-off pumpkins, but still want to participate, Mackenzie has set up an online page for the Great Pumpkin Challenge, www.greatpumpkinchallenge.org, where donations allow givers to buy a “virtual pumpkin.”
A “Great Pumpkin Challenge of Newtown” Facebook page has also been created, and Mackenzie has been posting regularly to keep followers up-to-date with all the Great Pumpkin Challenge happenings, like the sale of $5 bracelets and $20 hats.
Mackenzie also said this week that the bracelets and hats will be sold on Halloween and a jug will be set out for anyone to donate to the cause.
This story was updated on Tuesday, October 29.