One of the premier events to step head first into the Halloween season is the second annual Pumpkin Festival taking place at St. Raymond School in Menlo Park, beginning next weekend.
The event, for which there is no admission cost, offers the allure of a pumpkin patch, pony rides, and a climbing wall. It also features a European-style jumping trampoline, an inflatable bounce house, face painting, a variety of carnival games and of course, plenty of food.
The festival starts next Friday October 21 at 3:30 p.m. and runs through 6 p.m. The fun will start up again at 9 a.m. the next day and continue until 5 p.m.
Though there is no admission cost, tickets are required to play carnival games or ride the ponies, or participate in any of the other activities. Those can be purchased on site.
Tickets will cost 50 cents a piece, according to Kim McNair, a mother of students at St. Raymond School and co-chair of the festival organizing committee. Some activities may cost more tickets than others.
Pumpkins and food such as pizza, hamburgers, donuts and coffee, are all for sale as well. The ponies, perhaps to the chagrin of some, will not be for sale.
All money generated by the event will go to benefit , and a portion will go to sponsor the eighth grade class trip to Yosemite.
"We're inviting all the community to our fun event," said McNair.
The rainy weather nearly spoiled the inaugural event last year, so McNair is hoping for more cooperation from Mother Nature in 2012.
In hopes that the event may grow in attendance this year, McNair said she and other mothers from the school have blanketed bulletin boards and community calendars up and down the Peninsula, from Palo Alto to San Carlos.
"It's a very fun, local, homegrown event," said McNair. "And we got a lot of feedback last year that it was such a nice event for the children. Everyone felt safe and had a great time. So we want to do it for many years to come."
This year organizers have expanded the variety of games and activities for kids at the festival, in order to entice more families to attend, said McNair.
Eighth graders at the school have traditionally hosted a haunted house and festival for the younger students at , in which parents and other family members are invited to the campus to participate. Proceeds from that event go solely toward the eighth grade trip.
But due to insurance liability concerns, the haunted house will only be open for the school community event that will take place earlier on Friday, before the festival is opened up to the greater public in the afternoon, said McNair.
is a Catholic K-8 elementary school located at 1211 Arbor Road in Menlo Park.