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Picking the Perfect Pumpkin

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Hidden among the rows of hay bales in Heritage Park, 1-year-old Ethan Wagner from La Verne is on the hunt to see how many pumpkins he can successfully pick up and show his parents. His older brother and sister try to help him pick an “Ethan-sized” pumpkin. The Heritage Park Pumpkin Patch is located at 5001 Via De Mansion in La Verne. It will be open weekends from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and weekdays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. through Oct. 30. / photo by Audrey Gaudette

Hidden among the rows of hay bales in Heritage Park, 1-year-old Ethan Wagner from La Verne is on the hunt to see how many pumpkins he can successfully pick up and show his parents. His older brother and sister try to help him pick an “Ethan-sized” pumpkin. The Heritage Park Pumpkin Patch is located at 5001 Via De Mansion in La Verne. It will be open weekends from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and weekdays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. through Oct. 30. / photo by Audrey Gaudette

Brooke Grasso
Life Editor

Heritage Park Pumpkin Patch has become more than several rows of pumpkins of all shapes, sizes and colors. With a tractor-drawn hay ride, a petting zoo and the historic nature of the property, the patch at Heritage Park is a yearly family tradition.

The pumpkin patch located on Via de Mansion opened for its 27th year Saturday, attracting local families to enjoy the fall festivities.

“It’s about seeing the kids happy, picking a pumpkin and hopping on the tractor,” said Nathan Barlows, Heritage Park employee and La Verne resident.

Barlows greets guests, helping them onto the trailer pulled behind a vintage tractor. As the driver of the hayride, he takes guests through the dark orange groves and behind the historic white barn for $2 a ride.

He might even turn off the light for a quick second so there is no light among the old orange trees.

For Barlows, the pumpkin patch is more than just an October job.

He said he remembers visiting and picking out pumpkins at the Heritage Park Pumpkin Patch when he was just 10 years old.

“It’s pretty much the exact same, except I’m the guy driving the tractor now,” Barlows said.

Since the patch is on Heritage Foundation grounds, it goes beyond the typical activities of a pop-up pumpkin patch at a mall or off of a freeway, Barlows said.

“The kids get to see pumpkins, but they also get to see livestock, orange groves and old mansion on the hill,” said Evangeline Torres-Vaaler, La Verne resident since 2009.

Visiting the pumpkin patch is an annual tradition for her family.

Each year she brings her kids to see the farm animals, go on the tractor ride and of course, pick out a pumpkin. Her kids even climbed up onto one of the large rusty tractors to take a picture.

“They always end with either getting a lollipop spider, or a lollipop ghost and it’s the cutest thing,” Torres-Vaaler said. “Even though we come back every year, it feels like a new experience every time.”

Cassandra Cook has lived in La Verne for 40 years, and made visiting the patch a family affair for the past few years.

She visited with her two granddaughters, son and her daughter-in-law.

“It’s about that family bond and that love you have for one another,” Cook said.

Having grown up on a farm, Cook Having grown up on a farm, Cook said she and her sons love the family atmosphere and country feel that the patch has.

She said that her sons would typically visit the large pumpkin patch in Yucaipa, but after visiting Heritage Park they noticed there are many more photo opportunities for families.

Her 4-year-old granddaughter Paige Cook said her favorite part was the tractor ride and she also took pictures with the witch and scarecrow.

“Now that I have children, I’ve heard they have hay bale rides and the whole thing,” Karina Hussey, Glendora resident said.

This year was Hussey’s first time at the Heritage Park Pumpkin Patch and she visited with her two children and mother.

Although she hasn’t been trick-or-treating since she was 17, she said the patch brings back the nostalgia and they enjoyed it so much, they are going to come back and do it again.

The Pumpkin Patch is open on weekends from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and weekdays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. through Oct. 30.

The Heritage Foundation will hold its annual Pumpkin Patch Vintage Car Show on Oct. 27.

For more information visit laverneheritage.org.

Brooke Grasso can be reached at brooke.grasso@laverne.edu.

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