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The great ‘Pumpkins in the Park’

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The great ‘Pumpkins in the Park’ (photo courtesy of UCP of Maine)

UCP fundraiser marks 15th year on Oct. 22

BANGOR - The fun, the candy, the pumpkins, the games and the prizes – they’re back.

UCP of Maine’s 15th annual “Pumpkins in the Park” event, presented by Van Syckle Kia, is scheduled for Sunday, October 22. The event is taking place from noon to 5 p.m. at the Anah Shriners building, located at 1404 Broadway in Bangor.

For many kids, October is still all about Halloween - dressing up in fun costumes and traveling door-to-door in the chilly fall air in search of delectably sweet treats.

Pumpkins in the Park will arrive nine days before Halloween this year; it will keep the trick-or-treating under one roof, as kids stay warm while walking around the inside of the Anah Shriners building, where they can visit colorful pumpkin patches and collect candy.

“The theme for this year is ‘Games Galore,’” said Andrew Lohman, Marketing and Community Relations Coordinator for UCP of Maine. “That could mean video games, board games or game shows.”

Lohman, who is serving as the chair for the event, says that at least 25 pumpkin patches - each operated by a member of the community and sponsored by a different area business - will be arranged inside the building.

Like the game-themed pumpkin patches, each attendee is encouraged to incorporate a game theme into their costume, if possible.

Lohman says that he’s already heard from some patch operators about their chosen game themes.

“One of the patches will be based on the video game ‘Minecraft,’” Lohman said. “Another will feature retro video games, and another patch will have a ‘Candy Land’ theme.

“Last year was the first time we had a theme,” he continued. “It was a movie theme last year and it really worked well. Each of our patches was based on a different movie and people really seemed to enjoy it.”

Last year’s move to the Anah Shriner’s building saw more than 6,000 attendees for “Pumpkins in the Park,” according to Lohman.

“We learned a lot from last year’s event,” he said. “There was a line of people waiting to get in. To keep people from waiting outside in the cold, we’re working on a layout which would allow attendees to wrap around the inside of the building.”

Pumpkins in the Park began as a way to raise awareness of UCP of Maine, according to Lohman. It’s only in the last couple of years that the organization has been able to also use the event as a fundraising tool.

“This has become an important fundraiser for us,” Lohman said. “And since it will be our 15th edition, it’s a milestone for UCP of Maine.”

In addition to the candy and assorted pumpkin patches, attendees can also enjoy the Anah Shriner clowns, a photo booth, food and concessions, face painting, prizes and (weather permitting) a bounce house. Attendees can also purchase a raffle ticket to win a kayak donated to UCP of Maine by Old Town Canoe.

Admission to Pumpkins in the Park is $3.00 per person, $10.00 per family and free for children three years of age or younger.

To avoid long ticket lines the day of the event, attendees are encouraged to take advantage of presale will call tickets by contacting Brenda Wilson-Denning at 941-2952 ext. 308, or stopping by UCP of Maine, 700 Mt. Hope Ave., Suite 320.

A series of fundraisers have been held in the Bangor area to raise money for the event to offset some of the expenses involved for UCP of Maine.

“Our biggest expense in putting on ‘Pumpkins in the Park’ is the cost of the candy,” Lohman said. “It seems like a small thing but when you’re talking about buying candy in bulk for thousands of people, it really adds up.”

On Oct. 17, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Stillwater Ave. in Bangor, was scheduled to donate 50 percent of their proceeds collected from 4-8 p.m. to UCP of Maine. UNO Pizzeria and Grill, Stillwater Ave. in Bangor, will conduct a “Dough Raiser” benefit, on Oct. 24; up to 20 percent of each check will be donated to UCP of Maine. The popular eatery held the same fundraiser on Sept. 28, also for UCP of Maine.

UCP of Maine is a non-profit organization committed to advancing the advancement, productivity, and full citizenship of children and adults with physical and intellectual disabilities. They also operate the Elizabeth Levinson Center, a 24-hour, 14-bed, intermediate care facility for children deemed to be medically fragile and for adults with significant cognitive and medical needs. 

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