Free pumpkins placed island-wide

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Kirstin Punu of AES and Dave Bissell of the Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative pack pumpkins Saturday for the pumpkins and treats drive-thru distribution at the Kekaha Neighborhood Center.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Dave Bissell of the Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative looks on as Carla Bissell, voted the “MVP of the pumpkin and treats distribution” because of her Miss Halloween costume, brings up a pair of pumpkins for the drive-thru pickup at the Kekaha Neighborhood Center.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Dad watches as Elliot and Logan Ruley enjoy their pumpkin during the drive-thru pumpkin and treats distribution at the Kekaha Neighborhood Center Saturday.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Kiara Kubota is happy with her pumpkin while Liloa Kubota rummages for a big one in the pile Saturday at the pumpkin and treats distribution at the Kekaha Neighborhood Center.

There were pumpkins of all sizes everywhere Saturday at the Kekaha Neighborhood Center.

And people came from across the island as well, like the Kubota family from Kapa‘a and Henry Biggs from across the street, who walked over to pick up a pumpkin and treats.

“There are at least 1,500 to 1,600 pumpkins here today,” said Laurie Yoshida of Corteva Agriscience.

“The Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i Branch packed for at least 500 treat packages, so we know that much is going out. But we have a lot more.”

Stephanie Iona of Kekaha Agriculture Association said there were more than 4,000 pumpkins all grown in Kekaha, with the majority of the crop being produced by Corteva Agriscience and Hartung Brothers.

“Normally this is the fall festival with all-day activity with the inflatables, food, music and, of course, the pumpkins,” Yoshida said. “But with the COVID-19 restrictions, we can only have so many people at the Kekaha Neighborhood Center, so we’re doing this as a drive-thru event.”

In addition to the drive-thru pick ups, Iona said there were pumpkins going out to the vaccine clinic in Anahola through the Kamehameha Schools.

“They’re loading the trucks right now,” Iona said.

“On top of that, I just found out we have high-school football starting up today in Hanapepe. We’re sending some packages to the ticket booth for all those parents who couldn’t get here because of football.”

Iona said this is the first time Kaua‘i has been able to produce enough pumpkins to supply the island communities from Hanalei to Kekaha.

“We delivered about 250 pumpkins to Hanalei already,” Iona said.

“In addition to the pumpkins, we sent 200 pounds of tomatoes that we bought from farmers Pablo and Sally Valdez. All together, we bought 1,000 pounds of tomatoes, 200 pounds which are going to Anahola with the pumpkins, and 600 pounds of dragonfruit that will be distributed here in Kekaha.”

Monday, more pumpkins will be delivered to the Pau Hana Market, a partnership with the Kaua‘i County Farm Bureau and Kukui Grove Center, for distribution starting at the center at 3 p.m. until supplies are exhausted.

The Shops at Kukui‘ula will be distributing pumpkins Friday from 3 to 5 p.m. at the north side parking lot, and Saturday, more pumpkins will be unloaded at the Grove Farm Market in Puhi, starting at 9:30 a.m. until supplies are exhausted.

On the North Shore, ‘Aina Ho‘okupu o Kilauea will be hosting pumpkin giveaways on both Friday and Saturday off Kilauea Road.

Friday’s event will start at 5 p.m. and continue until darkness, and Saturday’s event starts at 10 a.m. and continues until lunchtime, or until supplies run out.

Iona said the islandwide effort is the result of a lot of hands, including Corteva Agriscience, Hartung Brothers, Alexander &Baldwin, Kaliance o Koloa, the Kekaha Agriculture Association, Kaua‘i County Farm Bureau, County of Kaua‘i, Kaua‘i Shrimp, Grove Farm, Bayer, Kamehameha Schools, Garden Isle Disposal, the U.S. Navy Pacific Missile Range Facility, Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i Branch, Pepsi, Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative, AES and the Hawai‘i Health Systems Corporation Kaua‘i Region.

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.

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