Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk
Greenbelt’s annual pumpkin walk takes place on the Saturday night before Halloween. More than one hundred candle lit pumpkins are placed in the North Woods, and families come to walk the trail and enjoy the scene.
The pumpkin walk takes place at the North Woods Tract of the Greenbelt Forest Preserve. This sign is by the unpaved access road to Northway Fields.
City Councilmember Rodney Roberts has been involved with the Greenbelt Pumpkin Festival since it started more than 20 years ago. This year he donated 100 pumpkins to the carving party which took place earlier today.
Roberts is heating apple cider in one pot and hot chocolate in the other.
Roberts pours cider for Jaky Lilly.
A young man in costume poses before starting the pumpkin walk.
The pumpkins were carved here earlier this afternoon and then placed by the trail. Volunteers lit the candles in them at 5 p.m.
The forest fairy starts her story: “The wind had never blown so guiley up the flanks of the wooded ridge as Goatman stood in the full moon forest.”
A group has gathered to listen to the forest fairy.
“You know, the night when the Children of All Ages come to the woods. When we walk down the trail together and share in the vision of Jack O’ Lantern faces that light up the dimness of night’s birth. It is rumored that after these words were spoken the towering Shaggy Oaks amongst the crowd seemed to bow to Hallow’s Eve.”
“All Ghoulies and Wood Fairies, Raptors and Such, let us drench their eyes in orange harvest glow. Let the hues of autumn sing their song so. Anybody can jump from betwixt trees yelling Boo! Let us show them the elegant wind in the pines and the pumpkin glow too. Maybe, all at once, we’ll stand together and see what a simple rippling joy a Jack O’ Lantern in the night woods, can be.”
Susan Barnett is the fairy, and the story is by Paul Downs.
Further down the trail, the legendary Goatman makes his appearance. He says that he came from Glenn Dale Hospital: “Everyone needs to know that I am the friendly Goatman.” “Happy Halloween,” he greets the visitors.
Wikipedia: “According to legend, Goatman is an axe-wielding, half-man, half-animal creature that was once a scientist who worked in the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center. The tale holds that he was experimenting on goats, the experiment went astray, and he began attacking cars with an axe, roaming the back roads of Beltsville, MD. A variation of the legend tells of Goatman as an old hermit who lives in the woods, seen walking alone at night along Fletchertown Road.”
Wikipedia: “Glenn Dale Hospital was a tuberculosis sanatorium and isolation hospital in Glenn Dale, Maryland, in the United States. It is a large facility, consisting of 23 buildings on 216 acres (0.87 km2), that was built in 1934 and closed in 1981 due to asbestos.”
Then the Goatman turns around and is gone.
This year’s general election ballot question 6 is about the Civil Marriage Protection Act.
Back at the start of the pumpkin walk, I see this scene.
Once I turn on my flash, I see Doug Love sitting next to a Jack-O-Lantern.
Doug Love tells a story about a squire at the Toaping Castle and the wizard’s clips. He says that this story comes from a colonial era story book and he has converted it to Greenbelt. The Toaping Castle is a colonial era plantation in Greenbelt in the present day Golden Triangle.
John Bolten plays the banjo. His wife Allison Smith Bolten is the organizer of the Pumpkin Festival.
This sign says that the Greenbelt Pumpkin Fest celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2010.
The Greenbelt Pumpkin Festival started in the late 1980s. There were plans to develop the woods between Ridge Road and Baltimore-Washington Parkway which has been a part of the city’s original green belt since its founding in 1937. A group of concerned residents formed the Committee to Save the Green Belt, and Paul Downs (Goatman), Rodney Roberts (cider and hot chocolate), and Doug Love (storyteller) have all been long-time members. The pumpkin festival and pumpkin walk were started then to introduce the public to the forest here, and in 2003, the group succeeded when the City Council made the North Woods a part of the city’s forest preserve.