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SAUGUS — Saugus Center will soon be littered with thousands of gourd-geous pumpkins.
Volunteers with the First Congregational Church are preparing to unload 3,000 pumpkins bucket brigade-style on Sept. 28. The tradition dates back more than 15 years in the town. Last year, two deliveries were made — the first for 2,500 and the second for more than 1,200.
Each year, dozens of residents answer the call, loading wheelbarrows and passing pumpkins down the line to be placed on pallets on the church’s front lawn.
Volunteers are needed to help with unloading this year, said Carolyn Davis, who runs the pumpkin patch. Students who help are eligible for school community service credit.
The pumpkins come from the Navajo Reservation in Farmington, N.M. They are supplied by Pumpkins USA, an organization started more than 30 years ago in Georgia, where a farmer, Richard Hamby, had a large number of pumpkins he needed to sell and met a minister who needed funds.
The farmer and the minister came to an agreement that Hamby would let a church in North Carolina sell his pumpkins, and they would share the profits.
The minister has since moved on, but the church still has a Pumpkin Patch each year.
Pumpkin Patch USA has since expanded to include more than 1,000 pumpkin patches representing churches, youth groups, scouts, schools, fraternal organizations, habitat groups and other civic organizations.
The pumpkins were first grown in the Carolinas and Georgia. But when Hurricane Hugo hit in 1989, the crop was destroyed. When looking for a new place to grow pumpkins, the organization found they especially liked the Navajo Reservation pumpkins.
More than 700 Native Americans are employed by Pumpkin Patch USA during the harvest months of September and October, which has left an impact on a region with 42 percent unemployment, according to the organization’s website.
The pumpkin patch will be open for business from Saturday, Sept. 28 through Halloween night from 10 a.m. to closing. Volunteers are asked to help unload the pumpkins beginning at 9 a.m. on the 28th.
If interested in volunteering, contact Carl Spencer at 781-233-9196.