WEST ORANGE, NJ – While many families trek all the way to Chester, Princeton or even Warwick, N.Y. to go pumpkin- and apple picking in the fall—often amidst huge crowds—West Orange’s Hazel School sought to bring the same wholesome activities to town and save residents from long lines via the Hazel Avenue School Fall Fest on Saturday.

The explanation of the event on Facebook read, “Do you really want to trek an hour away to a pumpkin patch only to wait in long lines for overpriced pumpkins? Didn’t think so! Instead, come on down to the Hazel Avenue School Fall Fest on Saturday, Oct. 17.”

“The Hazel PTA came up with the unique, amazing idea,” said WOCPTA President Tim Carter. “This time of year, our families are often looking for pumpkin farms to take their kids to…to choose pumpkins, pet animals, do some arts and crafts, drink cider and eat apple sauce-flavored doughnuts... right? These farms tend to be 30 minutes or more away and quite expensive. So, why not bring the farm experience here?”

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He added, “It was all very reasonable, and some of the proceeds helped benefit the PTA.”

The festival, which was held on the field facing the front entrance of the school, offered a pumpkin patch, pumpkin decorating, pony rides, candy apples, apple donuts, apple cider and a petting zoo, with animals from Swift Farms in Milford.

According to Sylvia Rowan, it was a “great community event.” She added, “It was so nice to see families coming out to this and having great sense of neighborhood here. Truly was really special. Kids enjoyed the animals and crafts. We had pony rides, petting zoo, candy apples, apple cider donuts, apple cider, pumpkins in a pumpkin patch. Hazel PTA did wonderful job organizing this event. We are looking forward to next year.”

Carter said, “I took my two kids, and we had a blast.”