by Doug McClure
HARDWICK – Sunday saw the seventeenth annual Pumpkin Walk return after COVID canceled it in 2020, but in a pared-down format.
Often one of Hardwick’s best-attended events, this year’s walk was still impacted by COVID. The virus is still generating cases throughout the state, especially the Delta variant. To reduce the risk of community spread, participants were limited to Hardwick Elementary School (HES) students, there was no promotion, and no bonfire or treats. The friendly witch, played by Lesa Cathcart and long a highlight of the event for the younger set, did return, though this year she provided a welcome greeting to arriving children instead of telling stories.
If the event couldn’t have a lot of attendees, the organizing committee was determined that it would have a lot of pumpkins.
Wolcott’s Slice of Earth provided what Ron Wiesen of the committee said was over 400 pumpkins “at a very good price,” and around 325 HES students carved them. The path was lit by the decorated pumpkins, and pumpkins ringed the circle where the bonfire traditionally would be.
The evening was soggy but warm. Just before the event, volunteers and members of the trails committee lit small candles and placed them in the pumpkins. The occasional yelp of a burned finger became more common, and the drizzle started putting out the available lighters. The volunteers persevered, however, the candles were lit, and the leaves provided the color for a fitting autumnal atmosphere.