Celebrating Oakland County Park’s Pumpkins: MORE than a Halloween Fruit of Frightful Faces

Wilder Side of Oakland County

Giant pumpkins at the Oakland County Market.

Pumpkins are perhaps the most-loved and anticipated farm field fruit of October, and yes, pumpkins are fruits. These near magical fruits of fact and fantasy are more than a healthy edible treat with a rich history. They will soon be sparkling in frosty Oakland County meadows at sunrise and presenting glowing ghostly faces from porches, pathways and patios on Halloween eve. My two favorite fun locations for hunting down the perfect pumpkin are the Oakland County Market in Waterford, and Cook’s Farm Dairy in Brandon Township.

The fruit we know as a pumpkin is a member of the cucurbit, or gourd family, along with watermelons, squash and melons. There are hundreds of different varieties of these fruits, but now that October is here, pumpkins of every size take center stage. References to pumpkins can be dated back centuries. Even Shakespeare referred to pumpkins in his 1602 novel, Merry Wives of Windsor, but way back then the pumpkin was called a Pumpion. Native Americans used pumpkins as a food source long before colonists set foot on the North American continent and started calling the big orange fruit a pumpkin. Legends abound as to the scary face carving, but the general consensus is the carved faces scare away evil spirits. Today the pumpkin and Halloween holiday have morphed into a delight for children.

PUMPKIN FEST at the Red Oaks Nature Center from 12:00 – 4:00 pm includes pumpkin carving, kid’s crafts, cider and donuts, a creepy critter talk, and live bats. Be sure to pre-register to guarantee a pumpkin to carve. TRICK OR TEES is the place to be at Red Oaks Golf Course from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Children and adults should dress in their favorite costume to trick-or-treat along the golf course trail, which will be glowing with pumpkins from Pumpkin Fest. Hot chocolate and marshmallows around a fire are part of the evening activities. These two family-friendly events, part of the “Celebrate Halloween with Oakland County Parks.

Register before October 16th (past) and attend both events for $8 per child. Call 248-858-0916 during weekday business hours (8:00 to 5:00) or visit Oakland County Parks for more details on this and all upcoming autumn events on the Wilder Side of Oakland County.

Photos and text by Jonathan Schechter, nature education writer for Oakland County Parks.

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