It was 6 a.m. on a Halloween morning when KCST made its first transmission back in 1988.
Every year since, the broadcasting organization has been celebrating that day with the Great Pumpkin Giveaway, set for its 28th annual event this Thursday, Oct. 26, at 3 p.m. The pumpkins will be given out at 4 p.m.
The event started in 1989 when the station decided to give away pumpkins to celebrate its first anniversary.
“They wanted to celebrate their anniversary and give back to the community,” said KCST News Director George Henry. “This was an opportunity to do everything all at once. Get the kids involved and get the pumpkins out.”
Thousands of pounds of the orange gourds have been given out to children 18 and under through the years, with up to 400 pumpkins expected to be handed out this year alone.
The pumpkins are donated by the Lemhouse family, who own Florence True Value, the Florence Saw Shop and Old School Furniture, and has hosted the event since 2008.
Along with the pumpkins, the family has tasked its employees with figuring out activities to run during the event, with Halloween tic-tac-toe tables, a pumpkin ring toss and the perennial favorite, pumpkin bowling, on this year’s docket.
“We also got some art students over at the high school to help us put together a big photo board where kids are going to get to have their pictures taken,” said True Value employee Angela Hufford, who helps organize the event.
“They created a festive autumn theme on a board for a photo prop,” said Siuslaw School District art teacher Kim Pickell, who helped coordinate the project. “There are cutouts for children and their parents to put their faces and get some fun photos.”
The event starts at 3 p.m., where the Lions Club will be cooking free hot dogs and passing out A&W Root Beer. Siuslaw Valley Fire and Rescue will also be on hand with their ladder truck.
“Then at 4 p.m., we give the pumpkins away,” Henry said, who also cautioned that kids need to be on time to get one. “By 4:30, they’re pretty much gone. If you’re there late, you may not get one.”
The 28th annual Great Pumpkin Giveaway is located in the parking lot of the Florence Saw Shop, located at 1550 Sixth St. across from Safeway.
Henry will be broadcasting live from the event from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m.