October 20 is the main day of the Pumpkin Palooza and focuses on old-time carnival games, complete with pumpkin seed spitting and mummy wrapping contests. The event starts at 11 a.m. at Victorian Square and will last until 5 p.m.
“The entire event is not electrified,” said Lisa Bonie, executive director of the NNCIL. “We have about 200 friends and neighbors volunteering running the games.”
Sunday’s main event is the pumpkin derby race, where participants will build race carts out of decorated pumpkins. Victorian Avenue between 10th Street and Pyramid Way will be blocked off for the race. The qualifying heats begin at 1:45 p.m.
“The newest contest we’re having is the marshmallow shooting competition. Nevada Management donated PVC pipe in order to build marshmallow shooters for our shooting contest,” said Jackie Shelton, a NNCIL board member. “UNR engineering students will be there to help build the shooters and DeMers Family Center will be judging accuracy of each shooter.”
Several local bands, such as Mimic, Man the Tanks and the Note-ables will donate their time, performing at Sunday’s event.
“There will be an instant costume shop complete with hats and feather boas you can purchase,” said Bonie. “If you come without a costume, you can buy one and we’ll dress you up.”
Fortune tellers from the Reno Psychic Institute will be on site, predicting participants’ futures. Zomboo, host of Zomboo’s House of Horror Movies series on KOLO Channel 8 will serve as the costume parade’s grand marshall. Grassroots Books will also be at Sunday’s event, reading spooky stories to the public in the “haunted” Glendale schoolhouse.
“The community is so wonderful. The Nugget will donate pumpkin pies for a pie eating contest and we have a lot of support from our volunteers,” said Bonie.
On Saturday, from 7 to 10 p.m. high school students can dressed up as zombies and enjoy the Zombie Prom at B Square Cafe on Victorian Avenue. Admission is $10 per student. Parents waiting for their boogying offspring can enjoy food and drink specials at the Cantina Los Tres Hombres.
Last year, the NNCIL staff expected 300 people to come to Pumpkin Palooza. To their surprise, 1,500 people showed up.
“We hope to have 1501 people come this year,” Bonie quipped. “This is a such a great local cause to support. We want to be known around the community, especially here in Sparks. Our main office is in Sparks.”
“Pumpkin Palooza was Lisa’s brain child,” said Shelton. “It’s a fundraiser for NNCIL and celebrates all things pumpkin. We’re the only event like this in northern Nevada.”
One out of four people will experience a disability in their life whether they are born with one or are later diagnosed with one, according to Bonie. Founded in 1982, the NNCIL helps those with disabilities live more independently and find peer support, providing those with handicap capable home features, such as bathroom fixtures and doorway ramps.
“We help keep people active as possible,” said Bonie. “Pumpkin Palooza is a way to get to know NNCIL. We can help you if you have an older family members. We can tell you how our team can help your loved one live independently. We’re doing this to educate the community.”
The NNCIL staff promises fun for all ages at Saturday’s and Sunday’s events.
“It’s going to be a ton of fun,” said Shelton. “People will need to be social in order to participate. It’s helps people meet others and provides unique and safe fun.”
For more information about all the activities at this year’s Pumpkin Palooza, visit pumpkinpalooza.org. For more information about the Northern Nevada Center for Independent Living, visit nncil.org.