Editor’s note: This was submitted by local artist Marcia Gawecki.
On Halloween, or All Hallow’s Eve, a gazebo in the center of town honored some of Idyllwild’s former prominent citizens as well as current ones. Ernie Maxwell, Capt. Mark Loutzenhiser and Carol Mills are among those honored, all deceased.
It all started when Cindi Hinds and her husband Rick went to visit Jackson, New Hampshire, a town about the same size as Idyllwild.
“Each of the businesses decorated their front lawns with pumpkin people which were a hybrid of human bodies with a pumpkin head,” explained Hinds.
Tourists got involved by voting on the best display.
“Some of them were pretty ornate, including two fishermen pumpkin people in a boat out on a lake!”
When she was thinking of a unique idea to decorate the gazebo for Halloween, Hinds thought of creating Idyllwild’s version of its own pumpkin people.
“We knew we wanted a representation of Idyllwild’s unique citizens, she said, including a firefighter, a hiker, an artist and a musician, and then whatever else worked.
Hinds recruited her husband to build the wooden frames for the pumpkin people. They had to be sturdy, but with movable parts. For example, Loutzenhiser is holding a fire hose.
“We also had to make them sturdy enough so they wouldn’t fall over during a big wind gust,” she said.
Local artist Marcia Gawecki painted the faces on the pumpkins. She also recommended they do smaller pumpkins of Mayor Max and deputy mayors Mitzy and Mikey. All three mayors are wearing children’s Halloween costumes.
“Basically, it’s a great photo opportunity for tourists and locals to get into the Halloween spirit,” said Hinds.
A sign and a banner explain who the people are. Some don’t even know they are part of the display.
Mint Park was a bass player from Idyllwild Arts in the class of 2010.
“All I could find was a child’s bass, and Marcia said she knew of a bass player from years back when she used to drive for the school,” explained Hinds.
Ernie Maxwell was the hiker, even though he started the Town Crier newspaper and also was an artist in his own right.
“He was a great naturalist and everyone knows about the Ernie Maxwell trail in Humber Park, so we thought it appropriate that we made him the hiker,” Gawecki added.
Carol Mills, a local artist who also started the Courtyard Gallery and whose family has kept it going long after she passed away, was the inspiration for the artist pumpkin person.
“Carol always had this great curly hair, so we got some yarn and tried to re-create it!” Gawecki added.
Hinds took the finished painted pumpkin head of Loutzenhiser to the fire station and asked if they could help her find a uniform.
“They were all for it and they came up with a suit that was beyond our expectations!” she said.
Loutzenhiser was the captain of the Engine 57 crew who lost their lives during the Esperanza Fire of October 2006.
The pumpkin people display was put up a week before Halloween and will continue to be on display through Thanksgiving.
“We are hoping it would be a good photo opportunity for tourists and locals alike,” Hinds said.
If there is interest, they may auction off the plastic pumpkin heads afterward to raise money for the Idyllwild recreation. However, Hinds hopes the pumpkin people will continue to grow as people give more suggestions for next year.
For more information, contact Cindi Hinds at 510-407-0762.