Posted 10/31/11 – The residents of Alegria Avenue in Sierra Madre are busy preparing for tonight’s influx of trick or treaters and sightseers, decorating their homes and yards to thrill the thousands that will descend upon the one block Hallowonderland between Mountain Trail and Baldwin Ave.
Doug and Heather Parker invited me to come by again this year on “Pumpkin Moving Day at the Parkers,” but I was out of town at a family wedding. But I did stop by yesterday and take some shots of the preparations taking place. The Parkers had a bumper crop this year, with a nearly 700 pounder and two 400 pounders which they affectionately call “The Twins,” even though they came from different vines, among the crop. That’s right, the Parkers grow most of the pumpkins we see in their yard each year.
On tap for tonight are a couple of cars, including a four wheel drive vehicle, a UFO, a Hippowalasnagon, and a multi-level “waterfall.” What’s a Hippowalasnagon? It’s a multi-pumpkin structure that some call a snake, some a dragon, who’s head this year looks like a cross between a hippopotamus and a walrus. Also, look closely at the spicer this year, and you may notice that some of its features have taken on a praying mantis-like aura. Doug tells me there were so many of the little creatures on the vines this year, he decided to incorporate them into the spider.
Many of the pumpkins are carved by Chris Roberts, an artist from North Carolina who flew out here on October 24th, and began carving on October 26th. He and the Parkers (and others) have been hard at work preparing this Halloween treat for you ever since, working 12 hour days (and longer), Saturday (and presumably last night) working until 3am. This unseasonably warm spell has caused some problems with the “product,” causing the Parkers to cover them with towels, spray them down with water, and rig up umbrellas for shade to protect them. The nice thing, according to Doug, is that it makes working into the wee hours of the morning much more pleasant.
Other neighbors decorate their homes as well, as part of a long time tradition most credit as having been started by the Parker’s neighbor a couple doors to the west, Bud Switzer, the original “Pumpkin Man.” Switzer began decorating his long (dark) winding driveway with carved, lighted jack o’lanterns in order to entice trick or treaters up to the house. Bud and his son Kevin carried on the tradition for many years, sometimes carving hundreds of pumpkins, and now that Kevin has moved to Oklahoma and Bud isn’t as young as he once was, the “Pumpkin Man” torch(es) have/has been passed to Doug Parker and Chris Roberts. I’ll have more extensive photos of the rest of the block after tonight. In the meantime, here’s a preview.