Friday night was the 4th annual Great May Center Pumpkin Walk. The event took place at the Wilbur D. May Center at Rancho San Rafael Regional Park.
More than 500 hand carved pumpkins were lit up along the path through the May Center garden. There was trick-or-treating for kids and the event was part of the Teal Pumpkin Project, which is an awareness campaign to be sensitive to food allergies during Halloween trick-or-treating.
It was very obvious that the event is a big success and that this year the attendance increased dramatically. There were long lines, challenges with parking, and all the things you expect at a successful event with thousands of people.
The event took place Friday from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. I arrived at about 6:00 p.m. and got in the long line making a big circle in the grass area at the park. Security thought it would take about 20 – 30 minutes to get through line but it actually took a little over an hour. I’m not complaining though, standing in line was still entertaining.
There were lots of children and adults running around in costume and the people in line around me were friendly. I used the time to catch up with my friends and their adorable son who was dressed up as a tiger. I also enjoyed watching the families in line and guessing who would go into melt down mode first after standing in line, the parents or the kiddies. There are some really good parents out there that made it a positive experience for the kids in line and taught them about being patient.
Tickets were $5.00 per person and children under 2 entered the event for free. This made it a great family event on a Friday night. This is also why attendance jumped so much this year. According to the event’s Facebook page a little over 4,000 people attended the Pumpkin Walk. Unfortunately they only had enough candy for 1,500 kids trick-or-treating.
The pumpkin walk was great fun! The holiday decorations and the pumpkins all along the trail were spooktacular. The volunteers were all very friendly and so were most of the people attending the event. Fall is a great time in northern Nevada, the weather is usually decent and the trees are beautiful as the leaves change color. This event really adds to the fall experience and celebrating Halloween.
I expect this to become a family tradition event in Reno and to keep growing. It has a lot of potential! If the event is going to continue to grow they will need to make a few changes. Here is my unsolicited advice from one event planner to another…
• 2 Night Event
o Twice as much work, but the event has grown enough to warrant having a second night. The event should be held on both Friday and Saturday night. This should help increase the funds raised and enhance the experience for your guests and volunteers since it will spread the crowds out over two nights. You have a quality event with lots of demand, it needs an additional night so everyone can enjoy the experience and you can raise more money for your cause.
• Admission Pricing
o Raise the price to $7 – $10 per person. Then discount it to $5 per person if they donate a pumpkin.
• Pumpkins Galore
o Accept pumpkin donations on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday morning in exchange for discount tickets so you can switch out pumpkins that have started to spoil. This year it was about 90 degrees on event day, which is unseasonably warm for Reno. This caused the pumpkins to spoil faster. If I were a local company that owned a refer truck I would seriously consider donating it to the museum that week to help preserve the pumpkins. Having that truck parked right in front of the event is basically a big billboard for thousands of people to stare at while in line.
• Line Management
o A few volunteers need to direct the line better. This year the line made a big circle and then it crossed over the line again a few times because there were so many people in line and no volunteers were there directing the line. It was really hard to figure out where the end of the line was. Having someone direct the line so it snaked around more and didn’t make a big circle would help keep it moving faster. Keep the line to one side of the grass area though so the kids still have room to run and play. Seeing kids make new friends and letting them run around and play in their costumes made standing in line easier for all the parents out there.
This is a very unique and special event. It has the qualities that make a legacy event. I hope the Great May Center Pumpkin Walk continues to grow and that it becomes a family holiday tradition here in Reno. The volunteers and event planners did an amazing job. Kudos to the local children’s organizations that carved the hundreds of pumpkins for the Pumpkin Walk. I look forward to attending this event again next year and seeing how it grows over time.
For more information about the event and Wilbur D. May Center or to make a donation to help support event expenses please click here.