Residents’ creativity highlighted in Pumpkin Parade

Horror figures like Stephen King’s Pennywise the Clown and Tim Burton’s Jack Skellington joined the fourth annual Pumpkin Parade at the East York Civic Centre on Nov. 1.

Families from all across East York dropped off jack-o-lanterns at the northwest corner of Coxwell and Mortimer avenues to show off their carving skills.

Pumpkin Parades on the day after Halloween have become a traditional event held across the city each year. East York resident Teresa Carpino approached Ward 29 councillor Mary Fragedakis in 2013 with the idea of creating a similar event north of Danforth Avenue, prompting the creation of the East York pumpkin parade.

Local resident Naheed Bardai, who described his contribution to the parade this year as being a “throwup pumpkin,” said it’s important to have an event like this.

“It’s great to have a community centre here that we can come to and the neighbourhood is really close, so it’s a good place to meet one another even though it’s a small event,” Bardai explained.

Watching his son and daughter play hide-and-seek, Brian Scholz said he was amazed at the creativity behind all of the pumpkins displayed at the parade — his first. He was happy not only to meet people in the community, but also to wrap up this years Halloween festivities on a good note.

“It’s always important to get people together, celebrate, and commune,” Scholz said. “Certainly for the kids it’s a great way to wrap last night (Halloween) festivities and its also a great way to say goodbye to the pumpkins.”

Carpino, who had first pitched the idea to have a pumpkin parade in East York, said she loves seeing the excitement on children’s faces when they look at the row of creatively carved jack-o-lanterns. Giving out free hot chocolate, coffee, and cookies on a cold fall night to families who attended, Carpino said the goal of the pumpkin parade was to build community spirit.

“You always want to build community spirit and events like this are just the best way to do it as kids enjoy spending time with their friends outside of school,” Carpino said.

“Its another day where the kids can come out and enjoy the pumpkins they created.”

Pumpkin Parade
SURROUNDED: Pumpkin Parade marches around the grounds of the East York Civic Centre by the memorial.

Arriving shortly after the parade started, councillor Mary Fragedakis spoke with residents and snapped photos of the differently carved pumpkins. Looking at jack-o-lanterns ranging from  a stencil carving of an owl to a heart with different coloured LED lights, Fragedakis says the parade is an opportunity for people to see the creativity in our society.

“People have really stepped up their game around Halloween,” she said. “It’s become a very important part of the social calendar with people spending more and more money to get dressed up.”