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Levittown church turns into pumpkin patch

Paul Mosca, 32, of Levittown struggles to carry

Paul Mosca, 32, of Levittown struggles to carry all the pumpkins his children picked out at the Pumpkin Patch Fesitval at Good Shepard Lutheran Church in Levittown. (Oct. 9, 2011) Photo Credit: Jordan Gibbons

With thousands of pumpkins from New Mexico raised on an Indian Reservation, the Rev. Remo Madsen and his congregation are hosting the ninth annual Pumpkin Patch Festival at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church.

“The whole idea of the pumpkin patch is to bring the community together,” Madsen said. “And to be able to really get a sense of the joy in the fall season.”

The festival in Levittown which runs daily for the month of October offers a corn maze, petting zoo and two bouncy houses that keep the children occupied for hours.

Madsen has hosted the event for the past six years, since he began working at the church.

The pumpkins are raised on an Indian Reservation in New Mexico for the church and all proceeds get divided equally between the Native Americans on the Navajo Reservation, the church in New Mexico and Madsen’s church in Levittown, according to Madsen.

Since its inception nine years ago, the festival has raised over $105,000 from selling pumpkins that range in price from 50 cents to $40 and entrance fees to the corn maze and petting zoo. Entrance into the pumpkin patch is free but it costs $3.75 to enter the area where the corn maze, petting zoo and bouncy houses are located.

“It’s become an annual event for families to come to the pumpkin patch,” Madsen said. “It’s family fun in the fall for all on Long Island.”

Since the church is along Hempstead Turnpike, festival-goers can avoid the travel out east where many pumpkin patches are, which makes the event more accessible for people like Veronica Bavaro of Levittown.

“I’m literally right down the street,” Bavaro said. “There’s a whole bunch of fun things to do, so we decided to come down.”

Bavaro and her daughter have a tradition once they find the perfect pumpkin.

“We put the pumpkins out on the stoop and when it gets close to Halloween, we carve them and put candles in them and take pictures.”

The church’s location also helps pull in passers-by that would never have known about the festival and all it has to offer, according to Shirley Schroedl of Massapequa. She noticed the pumpkin patch while driving by, so she decided to take her 7-year-old twins, Aaron and Lauren, to check it out.

“It’s easy to get to, it’s near major highways and there’s a lot of good fun things to do here today,” Schroedl said. “The kids had a great time. We ran through the maze, they love the bouncy houses and it’s good cause they get all their energy used up while they’re having fun.”

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