Great day for Pumpkins on the Pier

Hundreds of people, maybe more, flocked to Walnut Beach Sunday to buy pumpkins, eat pumpkin pie and generally enjoy the season and the sunny, mild day.

The annual Pumpkins on the Pier, which benefits the Boys & Girls Club, had been scheduled for Saturday, but organizers changed the date at the last minute because of the forecast of rain for Saturday.

Sunday’s turnout indicated they made the right choice.

Joe D’Amico was enjoying the day. At about 3:30, he’d just eaten half a pumpkin pie faster than anyone else in the adult pie-eating contest, and he walked away with the trophy.

Asked if he practiced for the competition, D’Amico said, “Well, I eat every day, so I practice every day.”

Actually D’Amico was a last-minute pinch hitter in the contest. His sister-in-law Megan Altomare is the director of the Boys & Girls Club of Milford, and as the time for the contest was approaching Altomare asked D’Amico if he would enter because a few more pie eaters were needed.

There were children’s activities throughout the beach parking lot, and a pier filled with pumpkins decorated by local groups and businesses. People walked along the pier, admiring the creations, such as the group of pumpkins decorated to represent the characters from the Wizard of Oz. Other pumpkins were carved to look like housing units, filled with miniature characters.

Steve Warzel, a regular at the Milford Fine Arts Council’s sandcastle contest in the summertime, sat carving his pumpkin near the Walnut Beach pavilion. Warzel had stripped the outside of the pumpkin and was carving the inside in the shape of a lion.

He planned to paint the carving purple in honor of Maren Sanchez, the Jonathan Law High School student stabbed to death in April at her school.

Maren was a friend of Warzel’s daughter, and he said she was a very nice girl and she liked lions and tigers, as well as the color purple.

The Pumpkins on the Pier also featured a hay ride, face painting, a pumpkin patch where people picked through pumpkins to decide which to buy, and there were vendors. Kathy Ouimette, dressed as a witch, was selling sea-themed items from her kiosk, called “From My Window,” which she said is an online and craft show business. Most of the pieces — the shells especially — were gathered from Walnut Beach.

There were non-profit groups at the event too, like the new group R.E.A.C.H. OUT. Founder Carol Cruz and two volunteer helpers who were dressed in Halloween gear, were telling people about their mission to establish a mentor program to help people with drug and alcohol addictions, or mental health issues.

The day was clear, and one woman walking near the beach said the clear blue sky offered a perfect view of Long Island. Another said the great day seemed to make this one of the best Pumpkins on the Pier events yet.