More than 500 gourds fill Oak Bay Avenue and the park behind municipal hall today.
They came in by the crate earlier this week to start the glowing annual event Pumpkin Art hosted by the Oak Bay Business Improvement Association.
Kiwanis Club of Oak Bay has been involved since Day 1 with the spooky Halloween feature. “It has always been the club’s mandate to ‘give back to the community’ and we believed that this would be a good opportunity for the us,” said Kiwanian Darlene Newburg.
“It usually takes us two days to set up with about 12 volunteers each day. Having good weather certainly helps in the process.”
They set up this year Oct. 25 and 26 with Oct. 27 set as opening night. Each year the club chooses a local charity to benefit from the donations.
Last year they raised $4,000 for Can Assist for their Teen Work Program that supports young people with disabilities finding and retaining employment, building confidence, and working with a coach to guide them into employment opportunities.
“This year the club has chosen Mitchell House as our charity for the monies raised from the event,” Newburg said.
Mitchell House falls under Threshold Housing and is a not-for-profit organization that supplies a home for young men aged 16 to 21. It provides a stable shelter and a place where the young adults feel like they belong.
“Knowing they can count on a roof over their heads and a sense of a caring community means that they can concentrate on finding work, finishing school, and realizing their true potential,” Newburg said.
There they have a mentor to help guide them into adulthood, take responsibility and participate in a home-like atmosphere while contributing to their home through household responsibilities.
“We believe this is a very good organization to support, helping those young gentlemen less fortunate in life but trying hard to overcome challenges placed before them. They will also be helping with the set up and take down of the Pumpkin Art this year,” Newburg said.
“It is most rewarding to be able to support groups such as these and to see the gratitude that comes when we are able to pass along a cheque that will help to enrich the lives of others. It is humbling to know that so little can mean so much to those less fortunate than ourselves.”
The sixth annual Pumpkin Art on the Avenue returns Oct. 27 to 31 behind the Oak Bay municipal hall, 2167 Oak Bay Ave.
The display, carved by John Vickers, features more than 500 carved pumpkins, including 30 new images of local personalities, additional members of the Royal Family and new Halloween designs.
“Every year John Vickers surprises us with a few more (pumpkins) but for me, the Charlie Brown Great Pumpkin always feels a little special,” Newburg said. “It brings back the memories of so many Halloweens gone by.”
Pumpkin Art is open 5 to 9 p.m. On Halloween night, the display stays open late – to 10 p.m. – for all those packing in the other events that start at 2 p.m. on Oak Bay Ave.
The Oak Bay BIA hosts family trick or treating on Oak Bay Avenue on Oct. 31 from 2 to 5 p.m. with the road closed to vehicle traffic.
The event features circus-style entertainment including costumed stilt walkers, hula hoopers and music.
Participating businesses are identified by a pumpkin poster in the window. Oak Bay branch of the Greater Victoria Public Library leaves the stacks on Monterey Avenue and hits Oak Bay Avenue with button making and candy. Tents will also be set up on the Avenue with lighted wands for young trick or treaters.
At 4 p.m. the second annual Oak Bay Village Pet Costume Contest howls in. Pet owners can register at the Victoria Pet Adoption Society booth at Trick or Treat on the Avenue from 2 to 4 p.m.
Prizes will be awarded to the best dressed pets and owners are invited to make a donation to Victoria Pet Adoption Society upon registration. Pet trick or treat also returns and pet owners are invited to collect “doggie bags” at participating stores.
Even after all that trick or treating, Oak Bay children manage to devour 600 to 800 hotdogs each year, courtesy of the Kiwanis, during the annual bonfire. Oak Bay Fire Department and Kiwanis Club of Oak Bay host the annual community bonfire at Fireman’s Park.
The massive pile of wood pallets is lit at 6:30 using propane tiger torches. Kids can also learn fire management, with trained firefighter assistance, taking turns manning the hoses that night.