‘Great Pumpkin’ makes a visit

LUDINGTON, Mich. — The “Great Pumpkin” visited Mason County last Saturday, to the delight of several local kids, and their parents and families, too.

Mark and Sandi Williams welcomed family and friends to their 30-acre property in Summit Township to see a massive, prize-winning gourd during a scavenger hunt and pumpkin-carving event to celebrate the season.

The gourd — weighing in at 1,412 pounds — was the largest in Michigan at the time of the St. John’s Michigan Pumpkin Contest on Sept. 26. Mark and Sandi brought it to the area to make sure the children of their friends and family members would have a good time this Halloween season, despite the pandemic and trick-or-treating restrictions.

“We know that trick-or-treating’s not going to be the norm this year for the kids, so my wife and I decided we’d do something special,” Mark told the Daily News. “We made it a Hunt for the Great Pumpkin, and we had (kids) search for 13 clues that led to this very large pumpkin or gourd.”

Mark said inspiration came from the classic “Peanuts” Halloween special, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”

“We had all the kids watch it, and there were clues based on the (show)… It was a fun thing for those of us who grew up with that,” Mark said.

Six kids, along with their parents, took part in the hunt and pumpkin-carving, enjoying cider and doughnuts afterward. Shane and Kathy Surd provided treat buckets and candy, and their kids Sierra, 10, and Sinjin, 7.

Doug and Patti Keller and their kids also attended, as did the Mark and Sandi’s niece, Kristin, her husband, Matt, and their two daughters.

In addition to the seeing two main attractions after a 1-mile hunt, the kids carved about several pumpkins in a variety of styles.

“We carved a total of about a baker’s dozen of pumpkins and gourds,” Mark said. “We had Harry Potter, the Headless Horseman… something for every kid.”

Mark said the Great Pumpkin — along with a 146-pound jack-o-lantern, just 1 pound shy of the state record — came from Sticks ‘N’ Stones in Pearson, with help from owners Josh and Michelle Larsen, who are Ludington natives.

Mark said both children and adults in attendance had a great time.

“It’s pretty good when your 30-something-year-old niece (Kristin Colby) tells you it was the best Halloween ever,” he said.

Mark said Kristin was so taken with the Great Pumpkin and the large jack-o-lantern that she took it back with her to Portage, to spend Halloween at her home with her two daughters.

“The Great Pumpkin is making the rounds,” he said. “From Pearson to Ludington to Portage.”

Mark said it was all about doing something special for the kids during this uncertain and trying year.

“Even though these are different times, you can still, with a little bit of imagination, make something special for kids to make memories,” he said. “It’s pretty cool.”


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