There's not a lot of hype each year leading up to Uncle Ray's Pumpkin Day. The annual event doesn't draw a lot of attention, other than what appears in the Herald to let people know when and where it takes place, but it is a great way to spend a ...
There's not a lot of hype each year leading up to Uncle Ray's Pumpkin Day. The annual event doesn't draw a lot of attention, other than what appears in the Herald to let people know when and where it takes place, but it is a great way to spend a fall day.
The free pumpkin picking day for kids took place this past Saturday. There's not a lot to it really, but it is becoming one of the most popular community events of the year.
On Saturday, families rolled into S&S Vineyards north of town on this beautiful fall morning, the minivan doors swung open and kids scurried to the pumpkin patch.
Big pumpkins, small ones, yellow, orange, white and ones just the right size. The kids joyfully plucked their picks from the vines as moms and dads snapped photographs. It's a fun day for everyone involved - the kids, the parents and the organizers.
The pumpkin picking day started quietly enough five years ago when the late Ray Sonnenberg thought it would be fun to plant some pumpkins and let kids have a go at the patch. The event quickly grew and Ray, who passed away two years ago, loved every minute of it.
Each year Ray would say, as he sat with his floppy hat and beer or glass of wine, he got the biggest kick out of watching the kids maneuver through the pumpkin patch. And his favorite part was observing the little rascals who went after the largest pumpkins they could find, without much thought into getting the pumpkin from the vine to the vehicle.
Ray just sat back and chuckled in that signature gruff voice of his as the kids tried to push, pull or drag the biggest pumpkins out of the patch.
That's where the parents come in each year. Not only are mom and dad the chauffeurs, they usually end up doing the grunt work as well.
That's okay, it's all in good fun.
Since Ray died, the pumpkin picking fun day carries on stronger than ever. Thanks to Ray's nephew, Brian Sillanpaa, along with Carla Snyder and other volunteers at S&S Vineyards, the fall tradition is kept alive in Ray's name. With some support from the New York Mills Civic & Commerce Association, the group plants the pumpkins, weeds the pumpkin patch and on Saturday even grilled hotdogs for all the visitors - again making the event a big success. Free of charge.
It's another perfect example of how much there is to do in this community, especially for kids, if you're willing to get out there and participate.
An estimated 250 children and adults took part in the event Saturday. Most were from the New York Mills area - Butler, Bluffton, Perham and Sebeka. One mom brought her little boy from Henning, because she saw an advertisement in the paper and said it "looked like a fun thing to do."
Ray wasn't the type to look for any special recognition. He planted each year, not only for the community event but as entertainment for him and his friends. He thoroughly enjoyed watching the kids run around looking for that perfect pumpkin to take home.
Those that showed up on Saturday had nothing but good things to say about the event. The weather was beautiful, everyone had fun and people seemed to really appreciate what Brian, Carla and the others do. While visiting with Brian and Carla around the grill a number of kids went out of their way to thank them for hosting the event. That's nice to see when kids in the community, whether prompted by their parents or not, take a little time to personally thank those who make the pumpkin picking fun day happen.
Again, nice work by Brian, Carla and their friends. They deserve at least this little bit of public thanks.
Uncle Ray was surely looking down at the action Saturday... chuckling, no doubt.