California Pumpkins Start the Holiday Season

By Chris MacDonald

Pumpkins are being sold in fields, stores, roadside stands and at festivals throughout California this holiday season.

Most counties grow pumpkins—about 30,000 pounds per acre, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. Forty-five percent of Californians are expected to get pumpkins this year to use in pies and soups, to be carved into jack-o-lanterns or just to be part of household décor—both inside and out.

Pumpkins, which some people argue are fruits; others, vegetables, come in all shapes, sizes, weights and even colors. The price per pumpkins may overall average out to around $3.89 in 2018, down from $4.12 last year. Still, Americans are expected to shell out more than $575 million to purchase these colorful characters.

Occasionally, pumpkins are given away FREE, as was the case at the 2nd annual HB Church Pumpkin Patch in Huntington Beach. "We're all about giving, not taking," said Pastor Jason Robertson. "The Lord always gave and never took."

"Everything here today is FREE—from the carnival games, live music, face-painting, crafts, food and drink to the pumpkins. We're expecting to give away over 300—first come, first serve," he said happily.

"One couple came here last year on a date. They ended up joining the church, getting married and now they lead our ‘Celebrate Recovery Ministry!'"

"It's fantastic they're giving away these huge pumpkins," said Dani Keane of Fountain Valley, who came to the patch with her husband, Shane, and 5-year-old daughter, MacKenzie. "I can't believe they're doing this. They really care about the community."

More than 60 volunteers make this popular event prosper, including Long Beach State Biology major, Paul Tintle. "I just love serving people. Kids and adults can select their own pumpkins and have a blast playing free games. It's a great feeling. Everyone leaves here with a big smile on their face."

Tintle was volunteering with his father, Terry, his mother, Rosie, his aunt, Cindy Wentworth (event chair) and uncle, Duane. The great-looking pumpkins were all grown in the San Joaquin County, where 70% of the state's pumpkins are often grown.

Ninety-two percent of the pumpkin may be water, with 1 percent protein and a whole lot of Vitamin A. The term itself is from a Greek word which means "large melon." Like some other squashes, they have been around thousands of years. Some think they originated in Mexico, others South America.

(On Oct. 27th the HB Church, 8121 Ellis Ave., will host -- along with the Sober Riders Motorcycle Club -- The Huntington Beach Youth Shelter Car & Bike Show. To find out how to help sponsor the event, reserve a vendor booth or enter the 11 a.m.-2 p.m. event  with your car or motorcycle, contact Kevin at 949-291-5100 or 100% of the funds raised go to the youth shelter, Pastor Jason said. In December, the same church will be working with the HB YMCA to deliver Christmas trees to those who can't afford them.)


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