Families have been taking their children to the annual Monroe Elementary School Pumpkin Fair for food, games and fun for the past 33 years. The Monroe Parent Teacher Organization will host the event for the 34th time on Oct. 20 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
This year's festival will have moon bounces, an inflatable maze with a fog machine and a haunted house.
"In the gym, the set up will be like a carnival, where kids have games and will win tickets for prizes," said Fran Welch, a PTO member.
Welch is a co-chair of the event with fellow PTO member Melissa Hope.
"There will be a bake sale and we will grill hot dogs and hamburgers," said Hope, adding there will be pizza fretes and popcorn. "Everyone can have a nice lunch and enjoy the day."
There will be face painting and a pumpkin patch where kids can decorate their own pumpkins, according to Welch.
The entertainment will include students from the Masuk Drama Club performing a scene from the play Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. The Monroe Dance Academy and the Lenihan School of Irish Dancing will also perform a few numbers.
Welch said, "We have such a great community here at Monroe Elementary School, because we get over 100 volunteers. This couldn't happen without these folks."
Vania Isaac of H.E.A.R. Fitness will be among the vendors, along with a traveling boutique selling Scout bags and accessories, Thirty One, Tupperware, Pampered Chef and Stella & Dot Jewelry.
There will also be a fundraising raffle and a silent auction. Prizes include tickets to Jimmy Fallon, four tickets to the grandstand for the Macy's Parade, Disney Hopper passes, Okemo Mountain Resort tickets and two bed & breakfasts.
Sports memorabilia can also be won, including a hockey puck signed by players on the New Jersey Devils, and autographed photo packages.
"The local businesses are very generous," Welch said. "They never say no. No matter what the economy is, they're generous."
Hope added, "They're an integral part of our success."
Among the donations are raffle items like gift certificates to restaurants and hair salons and for services and retail.
Mason's Farm Stand donated mums, cornstalks and hay bales for decorations. Welch said they also donated pumpkins, including a big one that one lucky child will win by guessing its weight.
It's All for the Kids
Welch said all money raised goes directly back to the kids.
"This is our biggest fundraiser," Hope said.
The PTO subsidizes field trips to keep costs down, as well as family nights out for Monroe Elementary School families. The last one included a Sound Tigers hockey game with tickets at reduced prices.
The PTO also funds the "One School, One Book" program.
"Every family got a Humphrey book," Welch said. "The families read a chapter a night together and the kids discuss it at school. The money bought the books and we're doing it again."
Playground equipment is another thing the PTO sometimes provides.
"The nice thing about the fair is that it's open to the whole town and surrounding towns and communities — and not just Monroe Elementary School," Hope said. "Families look forward to it every year. It's something the town enjoys."