The Great Westerville Pumpkin Glow is an apparent success in its inaugural year.
Sponsored by the Westerville Parks and Recreation Department, the event held from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. Oct. 23-27 at Heritage Park, 60 N. Cleveland Ave., brought several visitors to see hundreds of pumpkins shine. Some were lit with colored, flameless battery-operated candles, with the surrounding area decorated with outdoor string lights in purples, blues and other colors. Sculptures of a caterpillar, sunflowers and other seasonal items were created entirely out of pumpkins.
Randy Auler, the recreation department's director, said the response from visitors has been overwhelmingly positive.
"The response is 'this is so cool,' 'this is so wonderful'; that's what everybody says," said Auler.
He said it took about a month of set up and two years of planning to execute the event, but it has been well worth it.
The event turned Heritage Park into an autumn wonderland with music, bounce houses and activities for children, crafts and food vendors. The highlight was a quarter-mile trail, leading into the woods, filled with carved jack-o-lanterns created by volunteers and artists.
Christa Dickey, spokesperson for the city, said the event had 3,000 pumpkins on display.
Kristi Ludlow, promotions coordinator for Westerville Parks and Rec, said the event takes a significant amount of help because of the pumpkins' lifespan.
"The nicer the weather is, the faster the pumpkins rot," she said.
Organizers created a schedule of volunteer shifts, anticipating 50 to 100 volunteers would be needed to help set up displays.
The department charged admission of $12 for adults ages 16 and older and $10 for youth ages 3-15. Children under age 3 were admitted free.
Some comments on social media in advance of the event indicated potential attendees thought the price a bit expensive.
Dickey said organizers did see some of those comments, but several people said once they got to the event, they thought it was worth the cost.
"I don't think people will be as worried next year because they'll know what they'll be getting for the money," she said.
Auler said the recreation department would regroup and discuss any potential changes before next year's event.