Last updated: September 06. 2013 7:59PM - 46 Views

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[caption width="250" caption=" Eleni Speelman, Kalli Kunkle and Latavia Starks hold pumpkins from the Delaware city Halloween party pumpkin patch at Mingo Park Saturday. (Gazette | Melissa Mackey) "][/caption]

MELISSA MACKEY

Staff Writer

Pumpkins, marshmallows and vehicle trunks full of candy are a sure sign of the City of Delaware’s Halloween party.

More than 1,000 people attended Saturday’s annual free event at Mingo Park. Visitors were able to pick a pumpkin, play on inflatable toys and eat hot dogs.

Delaware residents Eleni Speelman, 11, and Latavia Starks, 12, didn’t have a strategy for picking the perfect pumpkin, just choosing one that was small enough to carry, they said.

“The aesthetics don’t matter,” Latavia said. “My pumpkin was small and easy to carry.

On the other hand, Kalli Kunkle, 7, said she picked out the tallest, biggest pumpkin she could find.

Eleni, Latavia and Kalli agreed they would carve faces into their pumpkins. Eleni and Latavia, who are dressing up as vampires this Halloween, said they will carve scary faces into their pumpkins with “tons of teeth.”

What’s more exciting than actually carving the pumpkins is scooping out the pumpkin insides, washing the seeds, cooking them and eating them, they said.

Claretta Speelman, who attended the party with the girls, said she appreciates having a safe environment in which to bring her daughter, niece and friend’s child. Claretta Speelman said although the traditional Halloween Trick or Treat makes her worry about the children’s safety, she will take the girls and escort them door-to-door.

Lauren Rick and her younger sister, Nichole Levings, also came to the party for the second year with their children in tow.

Rick, has a 2-year-old, Jewel Gayheart, who will dress as a kitten for Halloween. Her 4-year-old, Sabrina Rick, will dress as a pirate.

“My costume is black with stripes and a monster belt,” Sabrina said. “I will be a pirate scaring the kitten.”

Lauren Rick said she likes the Mingo event because the kids enjoy picking out pumpkins, having dinner and playing at the park.

The pumpkins were all picked over by the time Lauren Rick and her children arrived. It took about an hour for the 400 donated pumpkins from Lehner’s Pumpkin Farm to be chosen.

Levings brought her children, 4-year-old Hailie Sanner and 9-month-old Justice Sanner, who will dress up as a witch and baby Tigger on Halloween. Levings was able to snag one pumpkin for Hailie and will carve a funny face into it, she said.

The event, which is one of several free activities offered by the Delaware city parks and recreation department, will continue to be held annually despite the city’s recent decision to hand over its recreation department programming to the Central Ohio YMCA, city vice mayor Windell Wheeler said.

“All the events like the Halloween party, Easter egg hunt and 5K run will continue being done,” Wheeler said. “Along with anything else the Y and the city may come up with.”

Several sponsors helped make the Halloween party possible, including McDonald’s, David Williams and Associates, Pepsi Cola Columbus, The Kroger Company, Bueher’s Food Market and Dave Berwanger.

Beggars’ night in Delaware city is set from 6 to 8 p.m. today.

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