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Farmington church celebrates Halloween with online pumpkin-carving contest

Entries will be accepted through noon on Oct. 31.

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times
Michael Thomason
  • The winners will be announced Nov. 1.
  • The prizes include a 64-inch 4k television, a new iPad and a Nintendo Switch.
  • As of Oct. 28, 35 entries already had been submitted.

FARMINGTON — With traditional Halloween celebrations having gone out the window this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, leaders of Farmington's Piñon Hills Community Church moved earlier this fall to plan an alternative event — a drive-through trunk-or-treat event — that would allow participants to take part from the safety of their vehicles.

But when it became apparent that the pandemic's spread would prevent the event from being held, even with those precautions in place, church organizers quickly pivoted from Plan B to Plan C — an online pumpkin-carving contest that features some eye-catching prizes.

The Halloween Is Canceled contest continues through noon on Saturday, Oct. 31. Those who want to take part are encouraged to shoot an image of a pumpkin they have carved and submit it online at pinonhillschurch.com/halloweeniscanceled/. The winners will be announced Nov. 1, and the prizes include a 64-inch 4k television, a new iPad and a Nintendo Switch.

"This is the first time we've ever done anything like it," pastor Michael Thomason said of the contest, explaining that the church was intent on having some kind of seasonal celebration this year.

"I think a lot of (people), especially kids, were bummed Halloween is going to look different this year. … It's nice to have something to look forward to. And half of our entries this year are (submitted by) kids, so I'm excited to see that."

As of Oct. 28, Thomason said 35 entries already had been submitted. Even those who aren't interested in taking part in the competition can participate, as the public is invited to vote on their favorite entries. The entries ranged from traditional jack-o'-lanterns to themes that reflected a whimsical, humorous or even philosophical approach.

Once the competition ends, the votes will be tallied, and the top three finishers will be named. The winners will be announced at the church's Nov. 1 services. A panel of church officials will select five honorable mention winners, and those individuals also will receive prizes.

The church encouraged interest in the contest by giving away pumpkins to those who attended services last weekend, but anyone is eligible to take part. Each participant is limited to one entry, and all entries must be family friendly. Each photo also must include a contest entry image that is featured on the competition web page to prevent people from simply downloading carved pumpkin images from the Internet and entering them as their own work.

Thomason said he has been pleased by the response so far and is expecting more entries to be submitted as the contest continues. He thinks it could turn into an annual event for the church even after the pandemic subsides and in-person events return.

"I think so," he said. "There's something kind fun about it. Just looking at the (entries), you get a broader sense of our church community. Since the pandemic, we've been offering virtual services, and we've developed an online relationship even with people beyond San Juan County."

Call 505-325-4541 for more information.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or measterling@daily-times.com. Support local journalism with a digital subscription.