The giant pumpkin in front of Johansson Clark and Associates is extra big this year.
An orange monster appears in front of the realtors each Halloween, but this oversize squash tips the scales at 966 pounds – close to the world champion 1,200-pound colossus.
“Craig Clark gets one every year. People seem to enjoy it,” Clark’s assistant Eva Heaton said. “This is the largest one we’ve ever had, but they are never tiny. ”
The squash are a specialty crop grown locally in Puyallup, but cultivated from Japan to Australia by hobbyists hoping for the Really Big One.
The pumpkin prima donnas are pampered like babies, grown right on the pallet and fertilized every day. Growers even attach an intravenous line to the squash once they are picked, to keep them hydrated in transit.
Clark paid $350 for this year’s prize winner. Heaton notes that, considered per pound, the pumpkin was quite a bargain.
The squash was trucked to Washington and ferried to Bainbridge.
As they do every year, ferry workers followed the “pumpkin truck” to Johansson Clark in their forklift to lower the squash to the pavement.
Clark’s giant pumpkin may be the biggest squash around town, but its festive spirit is shared island-wide. Numerous local groups are sponsoring Halloween events, many of which happen this weekend.
Bainbridge Gardens hosts the annual “Pumpkin Walk” 6:30-9 p.m. Oct. 26-27. Hand-crafted Halloween lights and more than 100 illuminated pumpkins line walkways at the gardens. Local storyteller Elizabeth Shepherd will also be on hand to tell some spooky stories. Music by Kitsap Konnection will round out this Halloween experience, which is, staff say, “not about scary.”
From 1-4 p.m. on Saturday, hikers at Puget Sound Environmental Learning Center can hear legendary stories about spooky critters as they look for wolves, bats, spiders and snakes in the PSELC forest. There will also be a chance to create Halloween wildlife memorabilia to take home.
Halloweensters looking for a good fright can visit the Wilkes elementary school carnival, featuring the “Survivor Jr. Obstacle Course,” the “Haunted School” haunted house and the “Monster Market” from 2-7 p.m. Oct. 27.
Anyone with energy left after these trick-or-treat treks may come to One-Night Stand’s concert from 8-11 p.m. Oct. 27 at Island Center Hall. Ghouls and goblins shake it up with witches and warlocks to classic 50s rock ‘n’ roll and 60s rhythm and blues, while the Great Pumpkin smiles a toothy, candlelit grin over the revelers.
On Halloween itself, the annual stroll through downtown Winslow will garner kids in costume extra treats, as merchants dispense goodies from 4-6 p.m. Oct. 31. This alternative to night-time trick-or-treating is organized by Team Winslow. The Kiwanis and Rotary will provide crossing guards, and Northland Cable is donating free bags for treats.
Trick-or-treaters can also seek shelter – if not rest – at some local haunted houses.
“Halloween Kingdom,” co-sponsored by Bainbridge Teen Center and Bainbridge Performing Arts, features two haunted houses – one less-scary for the small fry, and the real deal for full-size ghosts and goblins – 4-7 p.m. Oct. 31 at the Playhouse.
Or, if vamp camp is more your style, “Rocky Horror Picture Show” is playing on Halloween night at the Lynwood Theatre.
As for the giant pumpkin, it rests in front of Johansson Clark through Halloween, but trick-or-treaters will never encounter the world’s biggest jack o’ lantern.
There is no possibility of cutting the squash, Heaton notes, because the hollowed shell would collapse under its own weight.
“It’s really quite fragile,” Heaton said. “We had an incident two years ago – someone rolled it of the pallet into the street and it broke. It was very sad.”
After Halloween, the squash seems to melt away into the night mists – here one day, gone without a trace, the next.
“A local farmer pulls up in his pickup, cuts it in pieces, loads it up and takes it away to feed his cows,” Heaton said.
That farmer is Bainbridge Mayor Dwight Sutton, who this year will serve the mincemeat he makes of the giant vegetable to his sheep or horse.
One alternative method of disposal could be culinary, squash growers say.
Clark’s 966-pounder would make 471 pies.