More than 7,000 people attend Spirits in the Garden


Mikayla Alt

Reiman Gardens showcased more than 1,300 hand-carved pumpkins for their Spirits in the Gardens event.

Over 7,000 people purchased tickets to visit the gardens that housed over 1,300 hand-carved pumpkins for Reiman Gardens’ Spirits in the Garden.

Spirits in the Garden has been an event hosted by Reiman Gardens for 20 years. Seven years ago, the event began using jack-o-lanterns as part of the attraction.

Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, the public events coordinator, had a friend who had been to the Boo-tiful Nauvoo Pumpkin Walk in Nauvoo, Illinois, and recommended Reiman Gardens incorporate jack-o-lanterns into the Spirits in the Garden event.

The jack-o-lanterns brought many more people to the event, and it became more popular because “everybody wants to see the jack-o-lanterns,” Wessel-Kroeschell said.

Walking into the gardens, one could see carved pumpkins lining a long trail. The pumpkins were each lit using timed string lights.

Each pumpkin was unique and notable, so visitors spent time stopping at each set of pumpkins to attempt to identify every carving.

Some of the jack-o-lantern designs included movie pictures, TV icons, game icons and memes. Visitors were encouraged to find Waldo during the event, as the “Where’s Waldo” character was also hidden within the thousands of pumpkins.

Every pumpkin also included a label on its back to help visitors discern what the carving was.

The event was filled with people of all ages wearing costumes of every type, as visitors were encouraged to wear costumes. On Saturday night, the Queen of England, a lego brick, princesses and superheroes all made an appearance in the gardens.

“If you like costumes, if you are into dress up and stuff, it’s definitely the place to be,” said Lana Popejoy, a visitor who attended the event with her husband and two sons Saturday night.

There were also many games going on during the event. Spirits in the Gardens offered trick-or-treating and lawn games, such as Simon Says, dancing and storytelling.

Other small events also happened during the three-day event with the help of several community organizations.

On Saturday and Sunday, ISU’s Society of Chemistry Undergraduate Majors (SCUM) presented chemistry shows in the Garden Room. The Boy Scouts of America Troop 230 sold hot chocolate, cookies and rice crispy treats, and ISU’s Cosplay Club also participated in the festivities.

Volunteers are a large part of the event. Anyone can volunteer at Reiman Gardens to help carve pumpkins, pass out candy, host lawn games and many other activities.

Ann Malven is a volunteer who has worked with Reiman Gardens for almost 10 years.

“When else do you get to see kids in cute costumes, and everybody’s happy,” Malven said.