NORTH SMITHFIELD – From pumpkin nurses donning scrubs, to gourds transformed into Olaf from Frozen, residents in the Saint Antoine community have something new to smile at as they celebrate the fall season.

Players from the North Smithfield Middle School girls soccer team decorated the facility with a festive display of “Pumpkin People,” painting and assembling the squash to bring some autumn cheer.  

The kind gesture was part of a town-wide contest to make creative decorations with pumpkins engaged in various activities for the chance to win prizes.  Team coach Catherine Reyes was one of two local mothers to launch the contest, in which residents post photos of their displays on a dedicated Facebook page.

At the assisted living and rehabilitative center on Rhodes Avenue, masked pumpkins stand by trees greeting passers-by, while others rest on chairs and bales of hay.

Reyes organized the competition with friend Britten Corriveau as a unique way to celebrate the season during a year when opportunities are limited by the pandemic, and festivals are cancelled.

Reyes worked with Melissa Smith, an employee at St. Antoine whose daughter is on the soccer team, to plan a day for decorating. 

And on Saturday, Oct. 3, 15 girls showed up, armed with their own pumpkins and ideas. 

Reyes noted that the kind gesture was in keeping with this year’s season quote: Stars Can Only Shine in the Dark.

“After talking this through, we decided a good way to make our lights shine would be doing something kind for someone,” Reyes said. “We all chose to make pumpkin people for the residents who have not been able to see their loved ones due to the lockdown.”

“We wanted to bring some joy to the facility,” she added.

The group spent two hours painting and setting up something for the the residents to enjoy for at least the next several weeks. 

And the team is just getting started: Reyes said the girls plan to build more creations for senior citizens in town to display in their own homes.

“That’s on the docket for this Saturday,” she said. 

All local residents and businesses are encouraged to submit a photo of their display for a chance to win cash prizes. Goodwin Brothers Farm Stand has sponsored three cash prizes of $100 each for the most creative, funniest and overall best display.

To enter, just post a photo of your creation on the Pumpkin People of North Smithfield Facebook page and  message your address to the moderators. The deadline to enter is Saturday, Oct. 17.

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