Pumpkin Alley

On Halloween Night There’s Magic in the Air (Especially in Pumpkin Alley !)

It’s October 31st 2012 – Halloween night and my youngest daughter and I are getting ready to ‘Trick or Treat’. At this point in the evening I was actually feeling a little jaded and not too enthused about Halloween, which is crazy considering I usually love this time of year (being one of the Little Witches an’ all). Anyway getting back to the jaded part, it had all started a few days before the 31st with a succession of tidbits that had caught my ears. A lot of fuss was being made this year about the costumes and celebrities that many of our youngsters were choosing to emulate, definitely a hot topic when you see more 6 year-old ‘pop stars’ than you do 6 year old princesses or fairies.Long Bay Camp Pumpkin Alley

On the heels of this debate I was introduced to the ‘switch witch’ whom I had never heard of before, but who can apparently switch your candy (by the bucketfuls) for a toy or present of some kind. I am still a little unclear as to whether this is just a case of being greedy and wanting more or if it’s a question of trading in unhealthy candy for something healthier, which begs the question “then why are we giving out so much candy?” – Either way!

And then to top it all off there was a story from Toronto that the houses were getting too scary with all their gory dressings and that to minimize the scare factor for children there should be some sort of Long Bay Camp Pumpkin Alleybylaw presented that would screen or censor Halloween stylings through a committee of sorts – I mean, really! I’m sure you get the picture of how I was feeling this said Halloween! I really was asking myself “what’s it all about”.

Okay maybe I’m setting the stage a little harshly and in fact as my daughter and I started out on our journey down the street I began to tingle a bit, caught in the joy of lots of gleeful children and, not to mention, the delightfully mild weather which made loitering fun! As we reached the end of our street we could feel a strange excitement mounting and could see an unusually large number of people walking down our back lane (usually referred to as the alley). Even from where we were standing we could feel a buzz of energy and even from where we were standing we could see why. Hanging across the alley from one side to the other was a large white banner welcoming everyone to ‘Pumpkin Alley’. To be precise the banner read ‘Long Bay Camp & O.O.S. Community Presents Pumpkin Alley’.

As we entered the magical world of Pumpkin Alley it was clear that this was what it was all about. Neighbours, friends, Ottawa South residents streamed down the small section of alley oohing and ahhing at the beautifully carved pumpkins some of which wereLong Bay Camp Pumpkin Alley so elaborate they looked like part of an art installation rather than your everyday jack-o-lantern sitting on a porch.

It was all quite incredible really. 100 pumpkins lighting a dark, dark alley and I’m not talking just a carved face with triangles for eyes, I’m talking carvings that ranged from a stenciled maple leaf to Linos and the Great pumpkin to an arched black cat to Elvis and Beethoven to the image that I think most people dropped their jaws to – The Mona Lisa. All through the Alley the air buzzed in sing-song, “Isn’t it beautiful?” “How do you carve a pumpkin like that?” “I wish I could do that,” “How inspiring” “Is that the Mona Lisa?”Long Bay Camp Pumpkin Alley

All of a sudden as I wandered down Pumpkin Alley the idea of what Halloween meant to me was restored. There it all was a sense of possibility in darkened shadows, a sense of mystery and magic and a sense of not your every day. Listening to the whispers of “wow, wow, WOW!” as people passed by the pumpkins confirmed I wasn’t the only one who had been touched by the magic.

Of course behind all great magic there is a great magician and the great magician behind Pumpkin Alley was Ott Reynolds. Ott inspired neighbors and friends to help carve the 100 pumpkins. At one point there was an assembly line of – off loading pumpkins, de-gutting (using a high-powered tool) and then setting them up ready for the artists to create their masterpieces. That was just stages onLong Bay Camp Pumpkin Alleye and two and certainly a special mention has to go out to Paul and Gabe Reynolds and the Temple-Murray family, who were completely under Ott’s spell and vision and did most of the dirty work of assembling and cleaning the pumpkins! The final mastery came with the placing and the lighting of the pumpkins on Halloween night. The spectacle certainly pleased all who were lucky enough to venture down a dark, dark alley.

As the founder and Director of Long Bay Camp, Arts By the Lake, Ott is no stranger to conjuring up magic to delight young artists. The camp is entering its 6th year and over the time of its existence, it has inspired young people, from the age of 9-16, to immerse themselves in the art discipline of their choice while being given a rich and memorable camp experience. This unique overnight camp attracts professional artists to share their passion and expertise through daily workshops. Ott not only prides herself on offering top notch workshops, amazing camp games and activities but she also ensures that every meal is healthy, delicious and free of processed food (parents – just a quick aside – if you think your child is a picky eater send them to Long Bay – they’ll return with a whole new palate and a love for fresh and local food!). In the meantime watch out Pumpkin Alley, I heard a rumour there would be 200 pumpkins next year!


Sips from the Poetry Café By: Susan Atkinson (teacher)

Photos By: Patrick Nantel

One Response to “Pumpkin Alley”

  1. Miles Weekes says:

    Fantastic post Susan! I really wish I could have seen this in person, although from the pictures I can only imagine how impressive this sight must have been! Hopefully the pumpkin alley will be around one year when I’m not off at university in Guelph and I can come check it out for myself.

    Thanks for this great post, you really brought the atmosphere of this particular Halloween night to life.


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