With Halloween quickly approaching, one Harlem church is offering a choice of pumpkins and a festive and educational trip for area children.
For the second year, Harlem United Methodist Church volunteers will spread several thousand pumpkins around the church grounds during its Pumpkin Patch event held during the month of October.
The Rev. Roger Vest, the pastor of the church, said the sale will include pumpkins of all shapes and sizes, gourds, corn tassels, wheat bundles and other items.
The sale benefits the church's area outreach projects including the Harlem Transition House and the Summer Feeding Program based at Harlem Middle School.
"(Profits) go right back into the community," Vest said, adding that 2004's inaugural Pumpkin Patch raised $3,000 for the outreach projects.
In addition to pumpkin shoppers, more than 600 area pre-kindergarten through second-grade pupils toured the Pumpkin Patch as a field trip.
Vest said about 850 pupils already have signed up to tour this year's Pumpkin Patch.
"It was a great time for them," said Pete Llewellyn, the chairman of the Pumpkin Patch and the church's Outreach Committee, adding that many children who toured last year's Pumpkin Patch created posters for the church to show how much they enjoyed the trip.
Tours include about an hour of craft time, a pumpkin, story time, pumpkin facts and a guided tour of the patch.
"It's a nice little inexpensive field trip," Vest said.
Story and craft time for children will be held on Saturday and Sunday.
"There'll be a variety of folks. You might see some folks dressed in pumpkin outfits or granny and her old outfit reading stories," Vest said.
The Pumpkin Patch will be open at the church at 115 Milledgeville Road in Harlem from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays; and from noon to 7 p.m. Sundays.
The first day of the Pumpkin Patch is the same day as the Oliver Hardy Festival, so a volunteer in a pumpkin outfit will be in the festival parade passing out fliers, Llewellyn said.
"And we'll have a booth downtown where we'll be selling pumpkins," he said.
For more information or to schedule a field trip, call the church at 556-6885.
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