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MAYS LANDING - The Atlantic County Division of Parks and Recreation hosted its first pumpkin festival Saturday at Lake Lenape East.

Due to heavy wind, many of the activities were moved inside the catering hall, but a steady flow of area children still came out to take part in the festivities.

Upon arrival, they jumped on a hayride that dropped them off at a pumpkin patch where each child selected a pumpkin. Then, they took the pumpkins inside to decorate them and participate in other activities such as making beaded spiders, bracelets and lollipop ghosts. Back outside, children were invited to build a scarecrow. Volunteers even told ghost stories on the beach.

“This is great. They are having a lot of fun,” said Bernadette Southard of Margate as her daughter, Ellie Southard, 6, worked on making a beaded spider. “Ellie loves crafts so she’s having a blast.”

Colleen Robinson came up with the idea for the festival as part of her new role as recreation coordinator for Atlantic County Parks and Recreations. “I’m trying to do activities for the kids, and kids love pumpkins,” she said.

“It’s my first time coming here. It’s a beautiful environment, and the scenery is awesome,” said Truth Ali Sr. of Mays Landing as he helped his sons decorate their pumpkins. “We wanted to bring them out for an activity they would love to do.”

The ACUA and Sea Turtle Recovery set up booths inside, and there were plenty of indoor-friendly fall games to play such as a hula hoop witch hat toss.

“I played a lot of games,” said Luke Dyas, 7, of Mays Landing. “And I went on a pumpkin hunt and found the perfect pumpkin. I had a really good time.”

About a dozen visitors brought pre-carved pumpkins to enter in the pumpkin carving contest for a chance to win a complimentary night of camping at Lake Lenape. The event was free, but pre-registration was required.

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