Oct. 7, 2020 — Ever since the very first KCST/KCFM Coast Radio Great Pumpkin Giveaway, the annual event has been a birthday party with a little different approach. This year, changes are driven by a pandemic, safety and a desire to provide local kids with some form of a Halloween event.
In 2020, the station and its partner True Value Hardware will host a drive-in giveaway, according to station General Manager Jon Thompson.
Although it will look different, the event will mark its 32nd year Thursday, Oct. 22, starting at 4 p.m.
Cars will be encouraged to line up and, as they pass through the pumpkin stations, local firefighters from Siuslaw Valley Fire and Rescue will hand a free pumpkin and bag of candy to each kid in the car.
The volunteers will be wearing masks and gloves so that distribution is contactless. Drivers can request that the pumpkin and candy be put into their trunk or in the back of their pick-up if desired.
“Many of the usual Halloween events have been cancelled and the CDC and Oregon Health Authority have recommended against trick or treating this year,” Thompson said. “The station and True Value decided cancellation of the annual event would further disappoint an estimated 500 kids, who typically receive a free pumpkin and goodies provided by our host and participating sponsors and organizations.”
There won’t be any games, hotdogs & pop or other prizes and activities typically associated with the event, but Thompson hopes providing a free pumpkin and bag of candy will give the kids something to look forward to.
The Florence Kiwanis Club, Crossroad Assembly of God and Grocery Outlet are assisting on providing candy and filling the bags.
Coast Radio’s Great Pumpkin Giveaway can be traced back to 1989 Thompson decided to give away hundreds of pumpkins to celebrate the first anniversary of KCST going on the air.
“Over the years, we’ve done different things at the Great Pumpkin, but one thing has remained the same — and that’s the pumpkins themselves,” Thompson said. “The large orange gourds have been handed out to kids under 18 years of age every year. Another common thread, at least since 2008, has been the participation of the Lemhouse family, owners of Florence True Value, the Saw Shop and Old School Furniture.
“The Lemhouse family have been a valued partner and their feedback and willingness to try and host a safe version of the event this year was critical to the planning.”
A map with the traffic plan has been worked out with the help from the City of Florence and Florence Police Department.