HOBOKEN, NJ - With last week’s harvest moon, "decorative gourd season" is officially in full gear. That means most Hobokenites are planning a trip to the countryside for their pumpkins this holiday weekend. For the Alves Family, they need only venture into their own backyard—thanks to the all-embracing freak of nature that is 2020.

“When COVID hit, we split and spent most of the past 5 months in the Poconos,” says Kristi Alves, who lives in Hoboken with her husband and son. 

“When we returned in September, we came back to a jungle in our backyard. As I looked down from the balcony, embarrassed at the sight," says Alves, "I noticed vines and giant leaves and yellow flowers growing among the grass—and was very perplexed, as we hadn’t planted anything.”

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Her neighbor mentioned that he had planted pumpkin seeds in one of their small planters.

“I quickly realized that sure enough, that was what was in our yard,” she says.

For a year full of mostly miserable surprises, it actually seemed kind of nice to be tossed a pumpkin.

“My 10-year-old son Jaxson and I were so excited. I said ‘imagine if a big pumpkin grows in our yard?’ He had a huge smile at the thought. Although I was thinking to myself how unlikely that would be,” admits Alves.

A few weeks later, Jaxson went down to the yard and started hollering.

“Mom!! You have to see this! It’s HUGE,” he yelled.

Kristi was still skeptical. “I laughed and thought to myself yeah right—he is always joking with me.”

But as Jaxson persisted, she went down to find fully grown pumpkin—right there in their Hoboken yard.

“It’s probably close to 20 pounds now,” she says. “We would love to carve it as a fun memory from ‘the Halloween That Wasn't: 2020.’”

Hoboken’s Halloween celebrations will certainly be muted compared to years past, as COVID concerns have seen the annual Hobooken 5k going virtual and the Parade canceled and trick-or-treating more or less discouraged while numbers begin to climb again region-wide.

Of course in the past, no one had to make plans for Halloween in Hoboken—they were already etched in stone. Asking Alves what she’ll miss about this year’s event, she says, “hands down is the costume contest at the baseball field, and then trick or treating down Bloomfield and Garden—with all the incredible theatrical set-ups. It's by far the most amazing Halloween celebration anywhere.”

The uncertainty for this year will require some improvisation. Alves’ plans are still up in the air. “Maybe an outdoor get-together with a few friends, some safe social distance games and much-needed witches brew for the parents.”

But at least they have the pumpkin taken care of—because the spirit of Halloween will never be uprooted from this small corner of the Garden State.

“I still cannot believe we have a big pumpkin growing in our yard in Hoboken,” says Alves.

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