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October 16, 2007 > Paint Your Pumpkin at Shinn House

Paint Your Pumpkin at Shinn House

By Justine Yan
Photos By Gerry Mooney

Throughout the year, events held at the Shinn House center on the historic home. "Paint your Pumpkin," however, celebrates the change of seasons as well as the stately mansion's local history. Autumn leaves on branches ablaze with fall colors adorn some of the oldest trees in California, rooted in the Shinn Historical Park and Arboretum. Yet, "Paint your Pumpkin," a relatively new event on these grounds, concentrates on something closer to the ground, the bright orange gourd commonly associated with spirits and Jack O'Lanterns on All Hallows Day.

It all started several years ago, when Joan Serafino and Gerry Mooney planted an apricot orchard on park grounds. As the trees grew, the idea of planting a pumpkin patch grew as well. Today, Shinn Historic Park yields about a dozen pumpkins each year. Though most pumpkins used for this event will be trucked from a farm in Oroville, the history of "Paint your Pumpkin" is rooted in Shinn grounds.

The Shinn House was completed in 1879. Florence Mayhew Shinn donated the house, along with a 4 1/2 -acre portion of the Historic Shinn Ranch, to the City of Fremont in 1962. She continued to live in the house until 1968, when she moved to a rest home. Her grandchildren continue to cultivate a strong sense of history, and have even developed the Shinn Archive Room dedicated to the history of the Shinn Family. Memorabilia of this room follows the family from the Mayflower to present times.

There is no better place to revive Halloween's festivities and the presence of past spirits than the Shinn House. During the "Paint Your Pumpkin" event, tours of the 19th century Shinn House will be featured throughout the afternoon. Docents in period costumes will guide visitors within the Victorian style house, filled with furniture and memorabilia. "Children think that old houses can only be haunted," says Joan Serafino, President of the Mission Peak Heritage Foundation, with a laugh.

The Shinn House certainly isn't haunted, but it is lively. The house was restored to its' original appearance, and so on the first Wednesday and third Sunday of each month, enthusiastic docents describe the history of the house and the family that lived in it during tours.

This pre-Halloween celebration will be held at the Shinn Historical Park in Fremont on Sunday, Oct. 21. Family members of all ages can compete for the Best Painted Pumpkin award in three different age groups. A prize ribbon will be awarded for the Best Costume as well. Games including a bean toss, a "pumpkin walk" and bingo will entertain visitors too.

The first 100 visitors will have an opportunity to buy their pumpkins for only $1; hotdogs, popcorn, coffee, and cookies will also be available for purchase. "Paint your Pumpkin" is a fundraising activity for the nonprofit Mission Peak Heritage Foundation, but not the primary goal according to Serafino. "It's mainly about the exposure - we want to spark an interest in history among the kids. That, to us, is a valuable investment."

Paint your Pumpkin
Sunday, Oct 21
Noon - 4 p.m.
Shinn Historical Park
1251 Peralta Blvd., Fremont
(510) 656-7702

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