By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief
For those who love the fall season, it’s the most wonderful time of the year: Two flat-bed trucks’ worth of pumpkins have arrived at Simon Meadow, and the Palisades-Malibu YMCA annual patch is open for business.
Executive Director Jim Kirtley explained that this year’s patch offers “a little bit of everything,” including fairytale, cinderella, jarrahdale, mini, pie-sized and knucklehead pumpkins.
“We have some called ‘kouyou’ pumpkins,” Kirtley added. “They’re different colors.”
The patch also offers a selection of gourds, ornamental corn and Big Mac pumpkins, which Kirtley estimated to weigh between 45 and 120 pounds.
The YMCA pumpkin patch, one of two major fundraisers for the organization, is a community tradition that dates back to the early 1980s. Funds raised each year support programming at the Palisades-Malibu YMCA.
“This year, funds raised are going to help with the struggles that COVID-19 has put upon us all,” Kirtley explained. “We’re trying to recover from COVID’s impact and help others that are struggling.”
Each Thursday, YMCA hands out about 70 bags of groceries to community members in need through the citywide FeedLA initiative, designed to help address “food insecurity and other needs for vulnerable Angelenos.”
Between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m., volunteers gather at the YMCA to bag up the food, and then starting around 11:30 a.m., they begin to distribute.
“We started at 20 bags per week and we’re up to 70 now every Thursday,” Kirtley shared.
The initiative is currently slated to run through December in partnership with the city, and if the grant gets renewed, YMCA will continue with the program.
Kirtley shared that most who take part in the program are connected to the Palisades in some way, whether they live or work in the area. He said many participants are older adults who are living on fixed income or people who are experiencing homelessness and work in the area while living out of their cars.
“If we can give them $50 to $100 worth of food,” Kirtley shared, “they’re able to use that money for other resources, like rent or gas to get up here so they can work.”
This year’s patch will remain open until October 30 or it is sold out—whichever comes first—so Kirtley recommended that those who wish to come down to purchase a pumpkin not hesitate.
As part of this year’s festivities, Winding Way, created by Palisadian Cindy Simon, will return this weekend, with Kirtley noting that the 2021 installation remained a surprise to all.
The patch will also host a glass pumpkin sale, which was on hiatus in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in partnership with Santa Monica College on October 10. A portion of proceeds from the sale will go to support the YMCA, which Kirtley called a “win-win” for artists and the Y.
“We try to pivot and fulfill as many needs as we can for this community,” Kirtley said of the past year-plus. “No matter whether it’s COVID or a drought or whatever the case may be, the support of the Y helps the community.”
Pumpkin patch hours are Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m. and weekends from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Schools and organizations who wish to make a special visit to the patch are encouraged to reach out to the YMCA to schedule a time.
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