image-pumpkin fest preceed
The Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival rolls into town this weekend. There is a parade, plenty of food, original art and so much more — and a large part of the proceeds benefit local nonprofits. Kyle Ludowitz / Review

The Coastside’s most iconic event is nearly here. The 49th annual Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival is prepared to draw thousands from across the Bay Area for the multi-day event.

Organized by the Half Moon Bay Beautification Committee, the festival is a key fundraiser for many nonprofits on the Coastside. The event is free and runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 19 and 20. Information on the event can be found online at pumpkinfest.miramarevents.com, and in a special pull-out section in today’s newspaper. 

Tim Beeman of Miramar Events works closely with the Beautification Committee and enjoys seeing the dedication displayed in the community-wide undertaking. Festival organizers are in frequent communication with local law enforcement, including the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office, so that everyone has a good time. 

“Keeping people safe is job No. 1 in any event,” Beeman said. “It’s obviously important to have fun and to provide a great customer experience, and part of that is public safety.”

Beeman said a new temporary AT&T tower has been installed at the I.D.E.S. Hall and should help with communication during the festival. 

As for transportation to the festival, SamTrans buses will be in service. Parking is available at Our Lady of the Pillar Catholic Church and the Shoreline Station complex, both located on Kelly Avenue just east of Highway 1. Many parking lots are operated by local nonprofit groups, and there is bike parking on the corner of Kelly Avenue and Purissima Street. 

Festival-goers can observe the world’s largest pumpkin sculpture. Made by Half Moon Bay native and Reno-based artist Peter Hazel, the 12-foot-wide, 11-foot-high, 10,000-pound mosaic sculpture is made of steel, cement, and ceramic tile. The Great Pumpkin Parade, which starts at noon on Oct. 19, is a homegrown favorite, with local marching bands, floats and the occasional celebrity.

With 270 professional artists, pumpkin-carving, costume and pie-eating contests,  there’s a lot to experience. Half Moon Bay’s Phondini Partners have created a free Pumpkin Festival mobile application to streamline information. The app includes an interactive map for attractions, vendors and music schedules. It also has push notifications for events, news and traffic, and can even help find parking. 

Beeman believes, at its core, the festival provides a fun, uplifting community gathering for everyone. 

“The fact that it can be all melded together to raise money for all these nonprofits in a small town, it’s just a fantastic story really,” Beeman said. “And it’s given a really wonderful identity to our community.”

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