St Luke Church Hosts Pumpkin Carving Event Among COVID-19 Restrictions by Maddy Tansley '23

As the first leaves of autumn fall from the trees, the heavy scent of pumpkin guts linger around the grounds of St. Luke Church. The weekend before Halloween marks the time of year when families belonging to St. Luke come together to carve pumpkins as a community. Only this year, the church faced the troubles of maintaining COVID-19 safety regulations.

Deb Toner, the head of the church’s youth group, as well as Emma Coleman ’21, the youth group president, have spent much of their time planning and preparing for the challenges of bringing people together during a pandemic.

“We did online sign-ups, we gave individual families their own tables and we made people wear their masks,” Toner said. “We [had] Purell, and the sign-in station for contact tracing, and then we had disposable goods.”

The St. Luke Church pumpkin carving event has been able to make it past many obstacles due to COVID-19, such as the lack of attendees and needing to introduce new safety measures, such as moving location and bringing your own pumpkin.

The church has already hosted a few events, such as dinners and rosary events, amid covid restrictions. Planning these events has been difficult; however, Toner said the pumpkin carving was easiest because they were able to distance everyone appropriately outside.

Even so, those who attended the event still had to be conscious of their safety.

“I have to think about my safety at every event now,” Kara Sullivan, a participant of the event, said, “[...]but I’ve come to a place now where I assume that if people are outside and masked, that’s as safe as we can be.”

Many people agree with Sullivan and feel safe with simply wearing a mask and remaining socially distanced.

However, with the increase of covid cases, others fear that events like these are not safe. Because of this, Coleman and Toner had trouble encouraging people to come to the event.

“If there was one challenge it was probably just like getting people to actually show up,” Coleman said. “[...] In the past it was obviously easier because we would have it in the community room and people would just walk by and they’d be like ‘Oh pumpkin carving.’”

While covid has restricted many events, it has also brought the community closer together. Additionally, it has allowed for residents to look into new events that their otherwise busy schedule would prevent them from doing.

“I think covid has gotten me to think a little bit more about events like this and without covid, there's been so much routine,” Sullivan said, “so I haven’t had as much time to think about new activities and events to explore.”

Many residents of Westport are finding themselves wanting to venture out into society again for things such as this pumpkin carving event but must continue following the safety guidelines.