When the the last "Pumpkin Patch" truck rolled out on Thursday it left our new bayside park damaged and strewn with garbage.
This "patch" should have never been allowed in Coconut Grove.
The City almost figured this out a year ago when the beer-swilling "Grovetoberfest" invaded Peacock Park. The resulting damage was so great our central park was shut down for three months so a new lawn could be installed.
This month city park officials refused to allow the fenced-in, drink-'til-you- drop event to take place in the Grove. The promoters begrudgingly moved it to the marine stadium parking lot. They swear they'll be back, invading the Grove again next October.
Last month it looked like we were getting a prison in the South Grove (despite numerous complaints, the razor-wire fence still stands).
Last weekend it seemed like the county's youth fair had taken over Regatta Park.
It was the annual "Pumpkin Patch Festival" which is not really a "festival" but more like a crummy carnival, some promoter's quick get-rich scheme.
He gave attendees a few kiddy rides and expensive pumpkins for sale. Many of them left feeling ripped-off.
The carnival did give young parents a chance to bring their kids to the Grove to see scarecrows, sit on hay bales, and stare at a pile of 5000 pumpkins. For fifteen bucks you could decorate one and take it home.
I guess that's what parents suppose to do every fall now, that public "pumpkin thang". We used to buy ours at the Boys Club and decorated it in the kitchen
There are many local fall festivals but unlike the others, this one is not aimed at raising money for charity. This "patch" makes big bucks for the promoter who pays the city large fees.
The Grove's pumpkin patch encircled our public park with fencing and charged a family of four $60 to enter. Once inside you could buy bright, orange gourds, bad food, and beer for high prices. Yes, there were also "free" kiddie rides -once they pocketed your entry money- but their lines were long.
Almost everyone attending was not from the Grove and they created a traffic nightmare. Our boating friends told us the pumpkin fans took over their assigned Dinner Key parking spaces and caused general havoc. "Parking for boat owners only" signs meant nothing to attendees. Some even double-parked.
A live-aboard Groveite told me, "It was awful. The police wouldn't help. They told us to call the parking authority". One day he had to park four blocks away from his home, a boat on pier 4.
With eight extra days of set up and take down the "festival" took over our newest park for eleven days. When the last truck pulled out on Thursday the patch promoter left our park looking like this.
The rides had fencing held together with plastic tie straps. You can see where most of them ended up.
The city should stop allowing this high-impact events to use our parks. Our public green spaces should be cared for, free to enter, and not fenced in.
This one would have been just as as successful in a large parking lot somewhere else. Trucks and asphalt go well together. Trucks and grass do not.
Peacock and Regatta parks should not ever be fenced in but rather, open for all to enjoy. Occasional smaller, un-fenced events are more appropriate for these locales.
Carnivals like this are not good for the Grove. They take over and tear up our parks. The outsiders attending do not spend money at Grove businesses. The city is approving them to generate fees. That's not a bad idea but do it while keep these crowded, turf-crushing events out of Grove parks. There are better places to sell pumpkins, cotton candy, and beer.