In what has become an annual tradition, putrid pumpkins leftover from Halloween have once again appeared in Mount Douglas Park and advocates are reminding residents to display their ghoulish gourds respectfully – meaning no trash and no smashing.
Over the past decade, Saanich residents have taken to dumping their jack-o-lanterns along the outskirts of the park, and the large orange fruits slowly begin to take over Churchill Drive and the beach parking lot after Oct. 31, explained Darrell Wick, president of the Friends of Mount Douglas Park Society.
The long-standing tradition of displaying old jack-o-lanterns is “a fun little place-making activity that happens spontaneously every year and people enjoy looking at the pumpkins.” said district spokesperson Megan Catalano.
In early November, municipal staff come by to scoop the shriveled remnants of Halloween, she said. It usually takes a few hours to remove some 200-300 pumpkins from the park to be composted and the process costs up to $800, Catalano explained.
This fall, however, volunteers have noted far more pumpkins than in previous years and, unfortunately, they’ve been scattered throughout the park rather than just along the roads bordering the park, Wick said, adding that some were also smashed in the parking lots. This is “disappointing” to see because Saanich staff won’t be able to pick up the ones inside the park and pumpkin smashing should be left to Langford Fire Rescue, he explained.
The park advocates acknowledge that displaying pumpkin art is something residents enjoy but Wick emphasized that there’s a difference between a dump and a municipal park.
“Instead of fighting it, let’s see if we can do it responsibly,” Wick said, noting that wax, candles, tins and anything else left inside the gourds does not belong in the park. He added that some pumpkins still contain seeds, which can result in unwanted plant growth and the gourds that have been painted or adorned with other decorations become litter.
Catalano emphasized that pumpkins can be disposed of in compost bins.