Alternative to ghosts and goblins

Tracy Warner

Saturday’s weather might have been rainy and cold, but that didn’t seem to dampen the spirits of approximately a dozen children and their parents as they covered the prairie surrounding the Lakeview Nature Center in search of pumpkins at the Prairie Pumpkin Hunt.Pam Johnson, manager of the Nature Center, which is a part of the Macomb Park District, came up with the idea for the pumpkin hunt three years ago.

“I wanted to have a non-scary event because we already have a haunted trail and corn mazes in the area,” Johnson said. “This is something that families can do together as an outdoor event.”

According to Johnson, Hy-Vee supplied the pumpkins for this year’s event, which also serves as a fundraiser to support The Bluebird Project.

The Bluebird Project maintains and improves the 40 bluebird nesting boxes at Lakeview Nature Center. The birds are monitored throughout the year and the information is sent to the ornithology lab at Cornell University.

“The money from the pumpkin hunt pays for painting the bird houses, because they take a beating out on the prairie from the weather,” Johnson said. “The money is also spent on bird feed for the feeders.”

To participate in the Prairie Pumpkin Hunt, children must purchase a game card for $3. They are then given a map that will direct them throughout the prairie where the 12 pumpkins are hidden. Beside each pumpkin is a can with a letter of the alphabet on the front of it. Each can also contains a roll of stickers. At each pumpkin location, participants remove stickers from the different cans and place them over the letter on the card that corresponds with the letter on the can. When their card is filled, the children can make the trek back to the Nature Center where they can select one of many prizes awaiting them.

Peter Hostert, 7, of Macomb, came to participate in the hunt for the second year in a row and shared what he likes the most about the event.

“Getting prizes!” Hostert said.

Kathleen Clark, senior recreation, park and tourism administration major, serves as the Pumpkin Hostess at the event and said that despite the weather, the children were enjoying the event.

“Everyone’s coming back excited,” Clark said.

Clark and James Puckett, senior biology major, both work at the Lakeview Nature Center, and were on hand to greet the families and get them ready to venture out in search of the pumpkins.

Madison, Morgan and Melissa Allen of Bushnell, participated in the hunt and seemed to enjoy different aspects of the event.

“I liked finding the pumpkins,” said Madison, 6.

“I liked getting a prize,” said Morgan, 6.

“I liked finding the letters,” said Melissa, 4.

The final days for the Prairie Pumpkin Hunt will be Oct. 26 to 29 from 1 to 4:30 p.m. at the Lakeview Nature Center, 10050 N. 1500 Rd., Macomb. To schedule a group event or for more information, call 309/836-2887.