HAMILTON, Ohio — An annual tradition in Hamilton continues, though it might look different due to the pandemic.
Operation Pumpkin’s end goal remains the same: to boost local business and bring Hamilton out for a beautiful fall weekend.
Driving through Hamilton's Main and High streets, you’ll likely notice 50 big pumpkins carving up some big business in the city.
“We look forward to Operation Pumpkin every year,” said David Stark, director of the Strauss Gallery. “The three days that weekend, it’s a highlight of what it is to be a Hamiltonian. I’m happy this year they didn’t just let it go away. They could’ve easily thrown it like everything else as a no-go because of COVID.”
For Stark and other business owners downtown, seeing folks stop by is sweeter than pumpkin pie.
“This modified version already in the first night is proving to be the good energy we need,” he said. “Getting lots of crowds to the brick and mortar businesses. Very helpful, very helpful.”
Municipal Brew Works co-founder Jim Goodman knows what's on tap with the festival, including their own Operation Pumpkin Porter.
“It’s important this year just to create some sort of sense of normalcy and reason to celebrate,” he said. “Especially with politics, COVID, all these negative things happening — it’s nice to bring a community together and celebrate locally.”
This event would typically bring in around 30,000 people, but this year it’s all about spreading out, co-chair Paige Hufford explained.
“We’ve expanded the footprint of the event from High Street, to now on High and Main Street,” she said.
Lighting up both storefront windows with smiles for those young and young at heart.
“Just seeing the crowds and the people of Hamilton out and having a good time again gives us the emotional and spiritual energy we need as well,” Stark said.
And these business owners said they’re happy to take a slice of the pie.
“Come down this year even though it’s a bit different, and support those businesses,” Hufford said. “They are what’s going to continue to drive Hamilton forward, and push our revitalization to keep going.”
Operation Pumpkin runs Thursday through Saturday from noon to 8 p.m. DJs will be located on High and Main streets Friday and Saturday, plus live music at Municipal Brew Works.