Music, carnival games, pumpkins, pumpkin pie eating contest, pumpkin seed spitting contest, steam engine locomotive tours and book readings for kids. A great time had by all standards at the PumpkinPalooza.
Recently we posted about the PumpkinPalooza at Victorian Square in Sparks, Nevada. Yesterday, both Windy Pinwheel families attended the PumpkinPalooza event. This was the first annual PumpkinPalooza hosted by the Nevada Center for Independent Living. It was a good showing for a first annual event just before the Halloween holiday.
We arrived around 3:00 PM and the affair ran from noon to 7:00 PM, so the festivities were already in full swing. Pumpkin-designed balloons as well as black and orange plain balloons were in many places and we could even see the balloons as we were driving in on the freeway near John Ascuaga’s Nugget when arriving to attend the PumpkinPalooza event.
The weather, I’ll admit was a factor in attendance yesterday. The first cold snap of the season decended upon the Truckee Meadows yesterday and it really impacted the event. The wind was a force to be reckoned with as it pushed the tents covering the carnival games that were held down by sand bags and by the time we were leaving the event around 4:30 PM, the volunteers, mostly from the University of Nevada, Reno, ROTC, Delta Delta Delta sorority and Phi Delta Theta Fraternity were taking them down.
It brought a sense of pride to see a local soroity and fraternity volunteering at this event, as the Windy Pinwheel authors were all Greeks during our undergraduate college experience. We are each SigEp (University of Nevada, Reno), Delta Gamma (University of Nevada, Reno) and Alpha Chi Omega (San Diego State University) alumni.
We started off by touring the area. There was a lot to see and do that we wanted to scope it out first. We headed over by the Sparks Heritage Museum that hosts “a vintage steam locomotive, cupola caboose and Pullman executive car… displayed along with a depot replica, the restored one room Glendale Schoolhouse and a monument to the Chinese rail workers.” (Source: Sparks Heritage Museum website). The train was open and free to walk through. However, there were no guided tours, they were self-paced. My son absolutely loves trains so it was an experience we couldn’t pass up.
Next, we headed over to the Glendale Schoolhouse (built in 1864). It was a very rare occasion because in all my 30+ years on this Earth living in the Reno/Sparks area, minus a couple when my wife and I were in Las Vegas for a year and Washington, DC for five more, I have never seen this one-room school house open to the public. I couldn’t pass up this opportunity. We all went inside. While in the schoolhouse, a local educator was present and reading books to children. This was too cool. It was an experience I will never forget, seeing my kids sitting in those old antique desks listening during story time. When the teacher was done reading her book, she gave away some books to those listening. We chose Ox-Cart Man. This experience truly made my day and a memory for me with my family.
When storytime was over, we headed back over to the carnival games and played a couple. “Tip the Troll” and the softball toss into the milk can were my kids’ favorities. Each of the kids got a reward of a Dum Dum sucker or a plastic spider ring for playing. They also had the game where you take a hammer and hit a button with it and it is supposed to fling the chicken into the pot and they had a ring toss over some Coca-Cola bottles. These games were also fun to watch my kids play.
We stopped and listened to The Note-Ables play on the stage next to the Great Basin Brewery and I have to admit, they were really, really good. The Note-Ables are a band of varying abilities as some are people with disabilities. In fact, the Note-Ables are not just a band, it is also a “nonprofit organization with a primary purpose of providing inclusive music programs and music therapy services for children and adults of all ages and abilities.” All-in-all, I found it to be a great time and I hope to see the band again at another local event.
About Independent Living for People of Disabilities
As a former employee of a large national organization that serves people with disabilities, this event meant a lot to me, personally. The disability movement is one of the last movements fighting for civil rights in much the same ways that people of color did back in the 50s and 60s and women did in the 20s. There is push today for people with disabilities to live in an inclusive environment, within their communities and not in an institutional setting. Many people with disabilities can learn life skills that can enable them to live in our communities and give back in ways that are meaningful and benefit the communities we live in. The Northern Nevada Center for Independent Living is “dedicated to improving the quality of life for people with all disabilities by promoting independence through self empowerment, choice and community involvement” and “each person, regardless of the severity of his or her disability, has the potential to grow, develop, and share fully the joys and responsibilities of our society.” That is something that I can stand behind and gladly give to by attending this event.
I can only hope that this event gets bigger and better every year. Also, I hope that the weather will cooperate next year as well.
Thank you to the Northern Nevada Center for Independent Living for putting on such a great event and I’ll be looking forward to next year.