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Church's pumpkin patch offers seasonal fun (Video)

ALLISON MILES

By ALLISON MILES
Oct. 18, 2012 at 5:18 a.m.

Thomas Rung, of Nazareth Academy, runs through rows of pumpkins  at the First United Methodist Church's annual pumpkin patch in Victoria.

Kristin Miori had great big plans for the tiny pumpkin in her arms.

"I'm gonna draw a face on my big pumpkin," the little blonde said with a grin. "I'm gonna cut the mouth ... but first I have to open it up so I can get the seeds out."

The 5-year-old was among a slew of Nazareth Academy kindergartners who hit the First United Methodist Church pumpkin patch Tuesday, posing for pictures, listening to stories and picking out perfect specimens for carving.

Now in its 15th year, the pumpkin patch is an annual church tradition, said Linda Reeder, the event's co-chairwoman. The event includes class field trips, pumpkin sales, craft sales and more, she said, with proceeds benefiting the church and its community outreach efforts.

"It's well-known here in Victoria as the pumpkin patch church," Reeder said, noting that more than 1,000 students will make their way through this year. "And we welcome anyone to come."

Organizers unloaded 2,235 pumpkins - not including the small pumpkins reserved for the children to take home. The seasonal squash came from a Navajo reservation in Farmington, N.M., Reeder said, which receives a percentage of what the church sells.

First United Methodist's annual church bazaar is Saturday, she said, noting vendor booths, door prizes and kids' carnival, among other things, will join the mix.

The annual pumpkin patch means plenty of work for its volunteers. Reeder said they enjoy giving back.

Evelyn Harrison is one example.

The 89-year-old woman perched on a wooden bench as she spoke to the children about where the pumpkins came from and what goes into growing them. She's worked with the event for several years, she said, and said it's all a labor of love.

"I love these kiddos," she said, a decorative black spider resting atop her white hair. "The students are very well-mannered and they love it. I enjoy helping."

Goliad resident Kathy Toerck and her daughter Angie Dement, of Needville, ventured to the patch on Tuesday with Dement's daughters, 2-year-old Kaylee and 6-month-old Riley.

The family began taking pumpkin pictures three years ago, they said, and wanted to continue the practice. With Toerck's recent retirement from teaching, they didn't even have to wait for the weekend.

"We're all having fun," Dement said as Kaylee lugged around a pumpkin all her own and Riley looked on with big blue eyes. "They enjoy it."

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