Culbertson Pumpkin Festival 45 Years Ago...

It's 1966; Lyndon Johnson is president, our soldiers are fighting in faraway Vietnam, and closer to home, Culbertson Elementary School is hosting its annual pumpkin festival.

I attended the a couple of weekends ago, the first time I had been back since my children were students there. It was a very successful event with lots of activities and lots of parents, faculty and kids in attendance. I wondered how long the festival had been going on, and in today's Internet world, within a minute or so I had a pretty good answer. As it turns out, this is the 49th Annual Pumpkin Festival at a tradition started at the school in 1962. Here's a look back at the fifth annual festival in October of 1966, as reported in the October 31, 1966, edition of the Delaware County Daily Times:

Pumpkin Penguin Is "Best of Show”

By NAOMI ZASLOW, Daily Times Correspondent

NEWTOWN—If you wandered into the Culbertson Elementary School auditorium last week, you were suddenly surrounded by more than 300 smiling or scowling, toothless faces.

The staring eyes, the gaping mouths, the scraggly hair, belonged to the entries in the school’s fourth annual Pumpkin Festival which Principal Eugene Pertchack says is one of the year's highlights for Culbertson children and their families. 

Each child was allowed to enter a carved, painted or decorated  pumpkin, on any theme.  The pumpkins, on display in the auditorium, will be judged in three categories: funniest, prettiest and most original.

The judges were Mrs. Charles L Sommer and Mrs. Leonard Eichner.

The Pumpkin Festival was part of the PTA  fund-raising plan, according to PTA President Charles Langner.

Proceeds from the festival were used to purchase extra items needed for the school.

Winners and runners-up in the festival were:

Class I, for kindergarten children only—most original,  Philip Wetzel and Richard Price: happiest, Eric Pressey and Penny Lawrence;  funniest, Michael Graves and Christopher  Rankin.

Class II, children in first and second grades—most original, Ronald Etter and Beth Davis; funniest, Stacey Rankin and Beth Merman; best personality characterization, Olita Strazds and David Celommi.

Class  III,  children  in  third and  fourth grades—most original, George Harrar and Jenny Chase;  funniest , John Stevens and Carol Chapin; best personality characterization, Mark McBrinn and Carl Holden; more than one pumpkin in a setting or scene on a board, Leslie Bacall and Steven Smith.

Class IV, children in  fifth and sixth grades — most original, Janice Lipton and Connie Ruggles; funniest, Allan Brenckman and Carol Frailey; best personality characterization, Kathy Harrar and Troy Orlando; more than one  pumpkin in a setting or scene on a board, Judy Smith and Sally Robertson  The winner of the "Best of Show” award was first grader Robin Robertson and her pumpkin penguin. 

Class V, Family Projects, was won by the Wolfington family; and  their Totem Pole.  Runners-up were, the Kopf family, and their Pumpkin in a Rocking Chair.

Back to 2011: If you know any of these "kids" from 45 years ago, please pass along a link to this article and let them know that their success is rememberd here in Newtown Square. (Regrets on any misspelled names–I was transcribing from an old newspaper scan).  

And thanks to the generations of parents, teachers and principals at Culbertson School who have built up such a wonderful tradition over the years. We look forward to a grand 50th annual celebration in 2012!

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