SAUGUS — The pumpkin patch at the First Congregational Church in Saugus Center — an annual tradition stretching 21 years that marks the beginning of the fall season in town — made its debut Saturday morning with the delivery of thousands of pumpkins from the Navajo Reservation in New Mexico.
Carl Spencer, who coordinates the pumpkin patch each year, said roughly 4,000 pumpkins were delivered Saturday morning and another 3,000 were slated to arrive next month, on Oct. 14. The annual event helps to support the Navajo, with most of the proceeds going to the tribe. The church keeps a “certain percentage” of the money, which is used to support the church and scholarships, and to give back to the schools and the library.
Spencer declined to say how much the patch raises each year.
The pumpkin patch began as a way to fundraise for a local youth group, Spencer said, but as the years have gone by it has become increasingly popular and grown into the annual tradition it now is — with thousands of pumpkins descending on the church’s lawn each fall.
“Everyone in the town looks forward to it,” Spencer said in a telephone interview last week.
“It’s just a community event. The church is right in the middle of the center; everyone sees the pumpkins,” his wife, Karen Spencer, added. “People come year after year … it’s just a tradition now.”
The pumpkins are sold seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the church lawn on Hamilton Street. Part of the appeal of the pumpkin patch, Spencer said, is the attraction of seeing thousands of pumpkins laid out in the middle of town.
“Instead of going up to New Hampshire or Maine or Vermont, you get your pumpkins (in Saugus),” he said. “You’ve got two, three, four thousand pumpkins to choose from.”
Saturday morning, a group of volunteers helped unload the pumpkins from the truck they arrived in, a tradition not slowed by a rainy morning. Students from Saugus High School and the Pioneer Charter School aided in the volunteer effort, as did local youth groups and church members.
“It’s a community project for the town to help us actually unload all these pumpkins,” Spencer said.