YARDLEY BOROUGH >> Rain and mud made for a sloppy Carve-o-Thon Sunday afternoon in the borough's Rivermawr section, but the less than ideal weather conditions didn't dampen the enthusiasm.
Sheltered under tents on a muddy patch of ground, volunteers worked their Canal-O-Ween magic, carving through more than 400 pumpkins as sheets of rain poured from the sky.
“The past couple of years we have had rain so it might be a tradition where it’s done in the rain,” said 2019 Co-Leader of Team Canal-O-Ween Stephanie McCann, putting a positive spin on the weather conditions.
Despite the weather, the enthusiasm was evident everywhere you looked among the hearty group of carvers who showed up.
Using carving tools, creativity and lots and lots of elbow grease, families, friends and individuals had a ball carving, socializing and spending time with neighbors at one of the most anticipated community events of the year.
McCaffrey’s Market supplied complimentary hot dogs and bottled water to the carvers who were hard at work carving faces and designs into the bright orange pumpkins that would soon be beckoning visitors along Edgewater Avenue.
The Carve-O-Thon literally puts the face on Canal-O-ween, which lines a portion of the Delaware Canal Towpath In Yardley Borough with hand-carved, candle-lit pumpkins every evening during Halloween Week.
“It’s beautiful to see,” said McCann, who urges everyone to come out and experience the event. “It’s really amazing,” she says of the creativity involved. “It’s great to see families come out, carve their pumpkins and then look for them along the Canal. It’s a very special thing that Yardley does.”
For the fifth year Canal-O-Ween will be displaying an extra-large pumpkin professionally carved by Bucks County artist and master sculptor Jeno Seitz of Newtown and sponsored by Charlann Farms and Ken’s Lawn Service.
Seitz was working his Carve-O-Thon magic sheltered for the most part from the occasional deluges beneath one of the event tents.
This year’s giant pumpkin features a haunted house, the Canal-O-Ween logo and an image of the Yardley Borough Hall, each carved by Seitz into the orange pumpkin skin.
“I wouldn’t miss this for anything,” said the Hungarian-born carver who revels in the community spirit that surrounds the event.
Despite the wet conditions, McCann couldn't help but smile as she gazed around at the pumpkin carvers hard at work.
"Canal-o-ween happens because of wonderful people who created this event and the volunteers who showed up today despite the rain," she said. "Everyone is just super excited despite the weather."
McCann gave a special shout out to this year's sponsors including 2019 event sponsor Bucks County Community College, Jack-O-Lantern Stroll sponsor ShopRite of Yardley and fire sponsors Nottingham Insurance and Bucks Ship & Print. “It's something everyone wants to be involved with."
The pumpkins created during Carve-O-Thon are placed along the historic Delaware Canal Towpath north of the Afton Avenue Bridge. And every evening at dusk during Canal-O-Ween, which continues now through Saturday, November 2, the pumpkins are lit by teams of volunteers. The public is then invited to take the Jack-o-Lantern Stroll to experience the lit pumpkins glowing in the night.
“Canal-O-Ween is simply about carving pumpkins, lighting them and sharing the simple beauty of the fall season, without expectations, fees or frenetic activity. It's an opportunity to celebrate the changing of the year towards darkness and the creativity of others with a stroll along the historic canal as the perfect background," said McCann.
Before and after the stroll, visitors are encouraged to shop local and have dinner or drinks at one of the town's many business establishments.
"The event is something Yardley should be proud of. And it's completely free thanks to all of our sponsors," said McCann.
Pumpkins stay lit for four hours or more each evening, depending on weather conditions.
“An estimated 40,000 people did the Stroll for its 10th Anniversary in 2018, and we expect good-sized crowds again this year,” noted Jef Buehler, President of Experience Yardley and Canal-O-Ween founder.
The more than 3,000 candles and hundreds of votive glasses that are needed to make the Stroll happen are made possible by the Night’s Lighting Sponsors: Spearhead, Cramer's Bakery, Grand Affair Party Rentals, The Continental Tavern, T. Foster & Co. Fine Jewelers, Kim Rock of Keller Williams Real Estate and the Canal Street Grille.
“The greater Yardley community has embraced Canal-O-Ween again this year,” said McCann. “We have so many great volunteers signing up to help in all phases of this unique week-long event, wonderful business and institutional sponsors, and the Borough and Police Department are going out of their way to ensure a fantastic and safe experience for all who come.”