The Whitefish Bay Civic Foundation will host its annual Great Pumpkin Festival next week in Old Schoolhouse Park.
The pumpkin carving event allows families to carve their own pumpkin, eat food and listen to music from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. beginning Oct. 23 and ending Oct. 27.
The Civic Foundation provides pumpkin, tools and candles for pumpkin carving. Once you've decorated your jack-o-lantern, you can place it on the bleachers in the park, where will be lit on display every night.
The pumpkin festival has a long tradition in Whitefish Bay, dating back to 1987, when Whitefish Bay pumpkin enthusiast Gordy Falk was told by police to move his extensive jack-o-lantern collection from his Carlisle Avenue lawn to Old Schoolhouse Park, due to traffic congestion.
After Falk took the festival to several other venues, the Civic Foundation adopted the event and brought the pumpkins back to Old Schoolhouse Park.
Whitefish Bay Civic Foundation President Crystal Luehne said it has been exciting to see the event evolve over the years. Last year, for example, she saw a number of AFS foreign exchange students carve their first pumpkin.
"They took lots of pictures and sent them back to their families," she said. "I remember remarking at the time, we have just become an international event because of the use of social media."
Luehne said the festival wouldn't be possible without the hard work of community volunteers and the Civic Foundation board, which is always looking for ways to improve upon the event.
"A lot of thought gets put into how guests will walk through the park and the experience they will have as look at the display. Lots and lots of detail, right down to the hand-crafted display signs," she said. "We’ve added music in the past couple of years which gives it a festive feeling and people tend to linger because of it.”
Wed., Oct. 23: Reilly Trio
Thurs., Oct. 24: Xeno & Joe (also Milwaukee Admirals Night)
Fri. Oct. 24: Joe Neary
Sat., Oct. 26: The Gleasons
Sun., Oct. 27: Pat McCurdy (Village-wide trick-or-treat hours are from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.)