We are very big into Halloween. It is, hands down, my favourite holiday of the year. It’s a time when being a child-at-heart is an asset, not a liability. The leaves are changing. The air is crisp. The sun has a unique angle that casts cinematic shadows all day long. And pumpkins. Pumpkins everywhere!

Our house has become known as one of the houses that takes Halloween to the next level. One year, I stuffed my clothes full of straw and sat on the stairs like a dummy scarecrow, with a box of candies in my arms and a sign that said “TAKE ONE!”. As kids approached to take a candy, I sprang to life, scaring the living bejesus out of many. To this day, one of our neighbour’s kids still won’t come back to our house on Halloween!

Reliving my Halloween evolution, there was a time when I thought a 300 pound pumpkin was big (destroying those pumpkins was an epic success!). Then there was a time when I thought an 800 pound pumpkin was big… And with every passing year, I find myself asking “where do I go from here?”. In Halloween AND in life! lol.

But this year, as I strolled through Montreal’s Jean Talon Market, I saw something. And when I saw it, I knew I had to have it. It wasn’t just big. It was a behemoth. And it wasn’t just that it was a behemoth – it was a beautiful behemoth. Round, symmetrical, perfectly coloured. I had to have it. And thanks to the folks at Le Potager Mont-Rouge, we got it. A 1,200 pound (500 kg!) beast of a freak-of-nature of a pumpkin. Here is the video of the delivery.

Within minutes of Big Bertha being placed on the thin strip of garden beside our house, people started stopping and looking, taking pictures, talking to others who stopped along with them. As I saw people passing the house, I’d open the windows and proudly shout “LOOK AT OUR PUMPKIN!”. They would laugh, take a few seconds to gaze, and carry on with their day. The local daycares walk by with their kids, who stare in utter amazement. A lot of people (who don’t know me or how Viva Frei rolls) think it’s fake. They walk up to the pumpkin sceptically, knock on it with their knuckles, and their jaw drops when they hear and feel the loud ‘thud’ that can only come from touching such a massive organic body filled with flesh and fluid.

As I watched the way this pumpkin brought strangers to interact with each other, I realized that this pumpkin was more than just a pumpkin. Halloween is more than just a silly holiday… It’s a catalyst to creating a sense of community with your neighbours. That pumpkin is a conversation piece – a neutral, apolitical, conversation piece. People stand on the corner of the street, and marvel together at the wonder of nature. No one walks away from that pumpkin angrier than when they arrived – perhaps with the exception of the city workers who may have to dispose of the carcass!

Actually, that is a total joke. We are going to use as much of the flesh as we can for food, and perhaps auction off the rest for a fundraiser. Which brings me to the point of this meandering post…

I am a firm believer that charity starts at home. Social change starts at home – with family, friends, neighbours, community. So I am going to be using that pumpkin as an excuse to raise money for the Greene Centre – a local community centre that serves people of all ages, from all walks of life. I’ve started a GoFundMe page – 100% of all funds received on this campaign will go to the Greene Centre.  If you prefer to donate to the Greene Centre directly, you can do it here.

So that’s that. Stay tuned for more Halloween awesomeness. We’re entering the final week, and I’ve got more ideas than time!

Peace out!