An Orange Blanketed Evening

Photo by Maxwell Reide.

Locals far and wide agree that New Paltz creates its own sense of magic on Halloween night.

Families living in surrounding towns like Gardiner went to the Night of 100 Pumpkins, an annual pumpkin decorating and carving contest hosted by The Bakery, right in the heart of New Paltz.

Located at 13 N Front St., The Bakery put sparkling orange lights on decorative display as creatures of all sorts came out to experience the contest. Fairies, superheroes, witches and monsters lined up to view the intricate and super-artistic pumpkins that local residents created.

Celebrating the 24th anniversary of this annual Halloween event, the owner, David Santner, gave out over 60 prizes to each of the 60 participating pumpkin carvers. With both children and adults participating, there were categories ranging from “Petrifying” to “Most Poetic.”

Businesses from all over New Paltz donated gift cards to distribute to the winners and participants of Night of 100 Pumpkins including Inquiring Minds Bookstore, Karma Road, Rock Yoga, The Guilded Otter, Earth Goods and Candy Candy.

Santner, a local of New Paltz who opened The Bakery in 1981, made it his duty to get everything perfect and prepared for this community tradition, which he admitted was an idea that his wife creatively came up with.

“She’s a kindergarten teacher. That’s how she thinks,” Santner said.

Every year, once the clock strikes 6 p.m., Night of 100 Pumpkins officially comes to life. Each of the pumpkins are lit up as jack-o-lanterns and drummers Assane Badji, Amadou Diallo, Moustapha Diedhiou and Mark Sommers play their traditional music to get all attendees into the spirit of the holiday.

“They get the people dancing,” bakery manager Alex Letourneau said.  “It’s a tradition and it’s a nice celebration.”

Many attendees agreed that Night of 100 Pumpkins is a Halloween staple.  Some go so far to even say that it wouldn’t be Halloween without it.

Ondrea Lynn, a resident of Albany, visited a friend in New Paltz and said it was her first time attending Night of 100 Pumpkins.

“I saw ideas that I thought could never be done with a pumpkin,” she said.

Karen Harting, a resident of Gardiner, said she has attended Night of 100 Pumpkins every year since her 13 year-old son was a baby. She said they meet up with friends in New Paltz and go trick-or-treating, which is a tradition of most young families who attend this annual event.

Santner said he is dedicated to this event each and every year and loves seeing how much all of the people enjoy themselves and getting to see all of the intricate pumpkins that participants put so much effort into making.

Since he opened The Bakery in 1981, Santner said his goal has always been to create a sense of community within New Paltz. According to New Paltz residents, Santner has achieved this goal.

“There is a real sense of community,” Annia Reyes, a SUNY New Paltz graduate, said.  “It’s a wholesome event for the kids and for me.  All of the creativity that goes into the costumes and pumpkins … I love it. It feels magical and it never loses its magic.”

Every year is a new, unexpected surprise for all attendees and judges of Night of 100 Pumpkins.

“We see all different, amazing things,” Santner said, reminding himself of 2013’s creations which included sushi pumpkins, totem poll pumpkins and anti-Common Core pumpkins.

The overall consensus is that it has become a staple in the community.

“[The Night of 100 Pumpkins] is exactly what Halloween should be about,” local resident Carol Reed said. “It exemplifies the meaning of Halloween.”