RIVERDALE -- For years, each school child in southeastern Utah has gotten a free pumpkin from a farm in Green River owned by James Banasky Insurance. This year, Riverdale kids and seniors got in on the action too when City Recorder Marilyn Banasky offered to donate pumpkins to the city.
"We grow about 20,000 pumpkins a year and they are all goodwill pumpkins," Banasky said of the pumpkins that are given to children and insurance clients or sold to benefit Sub-for-Santa. Banasky said she offered to donate pumpkins for last year's Harvest Festival, but Councilwoman Shelly Jenkins asked if she could use them this year for a pumpkin decorating event.
"When Marilyn said, 'You can have what you want,' I said, 'You're on,'" Jenkins said. She formed a committee made up of a few of the wives of city council members. The women each brought craft supplies they had on hand, like flowers, leaves, paint, stickers and pipe cleaners, and let the kids have at it.
The children transformed pumpkins into aliens, bugs, clowns, girls and boys, a bumblebee and even an Easter egg.
"It's a pink Easter egg with white on top," 5-year-old Alyse Larson said of her pumpkin.
Irelyn Willden, 6, also had holiday confusion and turned her pumpkin into a bunny.
Lauryn Lavin, 7, got her inspiration from the children around her.
"I look at everyone's things for a sec and then make my own thing with my mom. I look at the kids' things and thought what I'd like," she said.
Most of the children said they didn't know exactly what they were making until they were finished.
"I don't know yet. I'm just making like a little girl. Something with hair." Jessica Peterson, 9, said.
Eleven-year-old Brittney Henstra had a plan.
"I am making something two-headed with a face on each side," she said.
Parents appreciated the event as much as the children.
"I heard about it through the PTA. It sounds like fun. Something kids can do and you don't have to have the mess at your house. Anything kids can do that's fun, they love that," Brandi Riley said.
For Tamron Larson, the event was another way of celebrating her favorite holiday. Her daughter Alyse came dressed as Snow White.
"It's fantastic. It's way fun. Halloween trumps Christmas at our house," she said.
Holly Bird said she appreciates the city remembering children
"It's great fun for the kids. There's lots for the seniors and it's fun to do stuff for the kids," she said.
The seniors got a piece of the action too, though. Forty-five of the pumpkins went to the senior center for the seniors to decorate for themselves or their grandchildren. Jenkins and her committee were surprised at how much the children and seniors enjoyed themselves.
"It's better than I thought. We had a few kids sign up, but have had double what we expected. A really good turnout," Sandy Hunt said.
Jenkins said she'd like to do it again next year.
"It's amazing how cute and creative the kids are. Just give them a paintbrush and they'll go to work," she said. "I would love this to be a tradition."