After the annual Halloween parade streamed down Main St. on Monday, people formed a steady line outside The Bakery to view a unique array of Jack-O-Lanterns and painted pumpkins.
Located on North Front St., the baked goods and sandwich shop beckoned to adults and trick-or-treaters alike on its 26th annual Night of 100 Pumpkins event from 6 to 10 p.m.
Bakery owner David Santner said the pumpkin contest brings a decent crowd every year — and plenty of passionate pumpkin decorators, many of whom are families who have participated for “years and years.” To enter the contest, they carve or paint the pumpkins at home, then bring them in to The Bakery to submit them. Artists come in to judge the pumpkins based on different categories such as “panoramic,” “petrifying,” “pretty” and “peculiar.”
“This year particularly, there are some wonderful pumpkins,” Santner said. “There’s a giant one that’s a totem of six or eight pumpkins. I love that.”
The creations ranged from an intricate panorama of skeletons doing yoga to a series of painted pumpkins stacked like an ice cream cone. Some were also carved out as movie characters, such as Jack Skellington from “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and BB-8 from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” And of course just ahead of Election Day, there was more than one Donald Trump pumpkin-head.
Along with the contest, the Bakery offers a close-knit, festive gathering that, according to workers, has become tradition. Outside, they offer free pumpkin bread, hot cider and cocoa, and live African drumming music entertainment. People from New Paltz and beyond stopped by to enjoy the treats, and to admire the colorful and craftily carved pumpkins spread out across several tables surrounding the establishment.
Olivebridge resident Carole White attended for the second time this year. She had always visited Woodstock for Halloween, but recently discovered all that New Paltz has to offer.
“The pumpkins are really awesome,” she said. “And it’s nice running into friends.”
Maeve Dougherty worked her third year on the Halloween shift at The Bakery. She said it’s one of the busiest days of the year, and she loves seeing the community come together in their costumes.
“The parade starts at the middle school and ends here so we get this huge crowd all at once,” she said. “People love it and are always thanking us.”
She also recalled last year’s event, when someone proposed on a pumpkin because they had been coming to The Bakery with their partner for five years.
“It’s really a staple in a lot of people’s year,” Dougherty said.
High Falls resident Sal Matera has attended the event for the past 10 years. He said he loves walking the parade and commencing at The Bakery.
“It’s just a lot of fun marching down the street with all the people who are having such a great time and seeing the creative costumes,” he said. “And the pumpkins are always great here.”