WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Volunteers in masks lined the lot outside Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church Saturday morning. Pumpkins were passed from the truck, down an assembly line where they were gently tucked into displays raised on wood pallets. Children sprinkled hay on the ground and older volunteers stapled signs on to bins containing tiny ornamental gourds.
Just hours later, the church’s first customers arrived to select the perfect pumpkin.
The church has held the annual pumpkin patch fundraiser for decades now, making it part of many family fall rituals.
“We have come here every year since he’s been a baby,” said Christine Lamberton.
Her 3-year-old son, Noah, was excited to visit the pumpkin patch, picking up his suggestions and making sure mom and dad knew what their options were.
The church got the patch up and running later this year, wanting to make sure they could keep everyone safe and have enough volunteers to keep the sale staffed.
Director of youth and children’s ministry Elizabeth Lemaster says it was important to the church to keep the tradition going.
“I’m just so grateful and blessed that we as a community, especially with the church, are able to have this pumpkin patch this year," said Lemaster.
For many families, visiting the pumpkin patch will be the highlight of Halloween. Traditional trick or treating is unlikely to happen in some neighborhoods because of the pandemic.
The Lambertons say they likely wont risk it, and they aren’t alone.
“We do we normally go trick-or-treating I don’t think we are this year,” said grandmother Wendy Wilkinson.
Jennifer Huffer is another mother that’s making adjustments this Halloween. While organizations are putting together alternatives like drive through events or small parties – it’s a tough sell to many families.
"It’s not really the same because for us it’s not just about getting the candy, you know, it’s about the fun of dressing up and going around and taking our time and spending time together as a family,” said Huffer.
Life during a pandemic has made the process of making treasured memories taking the annual family photos and pumpkin carving extra special this year.