As the dance music pumped through the gusty, fresh fall air, little children cavorted and danced in the Shipyard Park gazebo while others had fanciful paints applied to their eager, smiling faces. Still others stood patiently in line for their turn to take a hayride or select a pumpkin from the one-day-only pumpkin patch.
The Lions Club Family Fall Fun Festival that took place on October 16 at Shipyard Park brought out the crowds of people who, for a few hours, did nothing but have a good time together. The first event of this sort was hosted in 2016 as the brainchild of the then-new club president Kimberly Ray.
“Each new president has the opportunity to plan their own event,” Ray explained. But this one was unique in that it was 100-percent free. “We wanted people to just come out and have family fun, no vendors or things to buy. All the Lions jumped to help…. This year I was blown away with all the costumes.”
Floating through the collection of costumes, one could find Kim Possible, Mario, Captain America, many, many princesses from different fantasy movies, and at least one very cute baby pumpkin.
When Ray turned on the dance music that featured such seasonal favorites as Monster Mash and Thriller, many of those tiny princesses and superheroes galloped, as only small children can, over to the gazebo where they twirled and kung-fu kicked their young bodies to the rhythm of the beat. Truth be told, several grandmothers kicked up their heels, too!
There were game stations where the participants tried their hands at pinning the nose on the pumpkin, the pumpkin hole toss, pumpkin bowling and, of course, got their faces painted. The Lions provided a free pumpkin while the supply lasted, as well as apples, cookies, and cider.
And then there was the hayride. Longtime Lions Club member Bruce Rocha Sr. provided what for many was the best part of the day, taking a 1-mile trip around the village atop a haybale-loaded wagon traveling 5 miles per hour. Rocha estimated that at least 330 people of all ages enjoyed that slow trip on an autumn day. Children exiting the wagon all received a goodie bag filled with candy and crazy surprises – yes, a set of black vampire teeth.
The 2021 event was a far cry from the drive-thru 2020 event that the club hosted at Old Hammondtown School. With COVID-19 precautions at least 50-percent of the way in everyone’s rearview mirror, this year’s festival was truly joyful.
Ray promises, “We’ll be doing this again next year.”
Mattapoisett Lions Club
By Marilou Newell