PumpkinPalooza has been a fall staple for the last eight years, attracting more than 23,000 people to Victorian Square in Sparks in 2019. Last year’s event was so successful that the team started making 2020 plans right away, but they realized within a few months of the COVID pandemic hitting that their original plans were not to be.
Named a top 10 Fall Event by Food Network Magazine, PumpkinPalooza is the largest fundraiser for Northern Nevada Center for Independent Living (NNCIL), which was founded more than 30 years ago by a small group of people with disabilities to help others with disabilities hone the skills they need to achieve independent living.
“We created this event in 2012 as a way for NNCIL to connect with our whole community while also celebrating fall and families,” explained NNCIL Executive Director Lisa Bonie. “It’s been successful from year one, and it became so big that we partnered with Liquid Blue last year, handing over the logistics to them.”
The folks at NNCIL and Liquid Blue had big plans for 2020, including expanding the event to two days and bringing in additional activities. When COVID hit, they knew they would have to change their plans -- or even cancel, an option that nobody wanted.
“We knew we couldn’t safely bring everyone together this year so we challenged Liquid Blue to come up with something else just as fun,” Bonie said.
As a special events company, Liquid Blue is uniquely suited to come up fun alternatives, but they were also dealing with their own challenges as event after event got cancelled.
“The first half of this year was really difficult,” said Founder/Partner Jess Horning. “But our team has learned a lot about what we can still do, safely and with social distancing.”
They put their heads together to reimagine Halloween for 2020 with the Purple Pumpkin Pursuit. This Halloween scavenger hunt takes families through the Reno and Sparks area as they work together solving riddles to find purple pumpkins. If they find all the pumpkins, they can crack the secret code for their chance to win a grand prize package!
While the original event took place in Victorian Square, the 2020 event has transformed into a family adventure throughout the Reno/Sparks area.
The Purple Pumpkin Pursuit was designed as a social distancing event. Families can complete the Pursuit in an afternoon or over several days. The purple pumpkins will be hidden in their locations until Halloween on Saturday, October 31st.
Every family that registers for the Pursuit receives a PumpkinPalooza Gram -- which includes the hunt sheet, one large pumpkin, miniature pumpkins, candy, and other Halloween goodies. Families can choose to pick up their PumpkinPalooza Gram, or they can upgrade and have it delivered right to their door by people in Halloween costumes!
Winners of the Pursuit will receive either a private, mobile Halloween party or a private movie screening. The mobile Halloween party features music, people in costumes, and a whole lot of candy and will come right to the winner’s home on Halloween. Also up for grabs is a private movie screening for up to 20 people at Galaxy Theatres in Victorian Square.
Registration for the Purple Pumpkin Pursuit is $45 per family. The delivery upgrade is $20. All registration fees benefit the Northern Nevada Center for Independent Living.
PumpkinPalooza is also holding online jack-o-lantern and pumpkin decorating contests as well as an online costume contest during the month of October. The contests are free to enter and everyone can participate. The community will vote for their favorite jack-o-lanterns and decorated pumpkins. The winner of the costume contest will be chosen at random.
The event is being made possible through the generous support of Bill Pearce Honda, City of Sparks, Raley’s, City of Reno, RSCVA, Galaxy Theaters, KBUL-FM, KOLO-ABC and the Nugget Casino Resort.
For more information visit pumpkinpalooza.org.