BANGOR, Maine — There were princesses and pirates, lady-bugs and lizards.
But mostly there were lots of pumpkins Saturday afternoon in the Bangor Auditorium as United Cerebral Palsy of Northeastern Maine threw what amounted to a giant Halloween party.
Pumpkins in the Park gave local businesses and nonprofit organizations a chance to decorate a stall with pumpkins to create a scene that represented their mission or depicted a theme. It was the sixth year in a row UCP has put on the event.
There were 30 pumpkin patch displays, which UCP executive director Bobbi Jo Yeager said was the most in the six years of the event. She estimated that 3,000 people would turn out for the event, which was how many visited last year.
The event was also an opportunity for children to trick-or-treat in an enclosed space not dependent on weather. Each organization with a pumpkin patch handed out candy to the children.
“I think it’s become a safe place for families to bring their kids for trick-or-treating,” Yeager said.
Maine Rehab Outpatient Center of Eastern Maine Medical Center was the first-place winner, for a pumpkin-patch display called “A Trip To Squash Mountain,” in which pumpkins were placed around and on top of a mountain covered in white fabric. The pumpkins, some of which seemed to be skiing down the slope, were carved by a youth group from the East Orrington Congregational Church. Paper snowflakes in the background were made by the rehab center’s patients.
Center employees put their mark on the display by including a pumpkin that had a fake cast on the ground next to it, as if the pumpkin had a broken leg.
The entire display, however, was meant to convey an important message.
“Kids being outside, enjoying the environment, is a great way to help develop their motor skills,” said therapist Erica Engelmann, who credited co-worker Andrea Haskell with thinking of the theme.
Second place went to a Wizard of Oz-themed display by Penobscot Pediatrics of Bangor. Girl Scout Troop 357 took third for its display, which had a Christmas morning theme.
There was plenty to do besides the displays and trick-or-treating. The Anah Shrine Clowns made balloon animals. Outside the auditorium were bounce tents, face-painting booths and hayrides.
Deidre Thompson of Bangor brought her 7-year-old daughter, Makenzie, for the first time. Makenzie was dressed as the TV and movie figure Hannah Montana, who is played by actress Miley Cyrus.
“She’s pretty, and I like her wig,” said Makenzie, who was wearing a long blond wig with a blue headband under her own brown hair, just like Hannah Montana does.