Pumpkins with Pizazz

The creative juices are flowing this Halloween season in Polk County.Some of the region's most artistic individuals have put their best foot -- make that, pumpkin -- forward by demonstrating their carving prowess in time for Thursday's annual celebration of All Hallows' Eve.We at the Itemizer-Observer asked you, our readers, to submit photographs of your Halloween pumpkins. Some of our favorite submissions appear on this page. From traditional to intricate, themed to original, the pumpkins demonstrated that local residents know how to have fun during this time of year when everyone can be a kid again.The leaves are falling. There is a chill in the air. Area stores have plenty of bags of candy on display for purchase. It must be time for Halloween. Haven't carved your pumpkin yet? There is still time. Area stores and farms have a plentiful selection of colorful gourds in all shapes and sizes waiting for you.Grab a sharp knife, some newspaper or plastic, and sit down and let the creative juices flow.Have a safe and enjoyable Halloween! Halloween Safety Tips * Talk to your young child in advance about the difference between reality and make-believe. Preschool-aged children and toddlers can be afraid of the scarier aspects of Halloween.* When choosing or making a costume, be sure that it is made of fire-resistant material and bright colors. If you choose a dark color, add reflective tape so drivers can see your trick-or-treater. Be sure that the costume is not a tripping hazard. Avoid sharp objects or accessories and opt for makeup or face paint instead of a mask. Face paint labels should say "made with U.S.-approved colored additives," "laboratory tested," "nontoxic," or "meets federal standards for cosmetics."* Be sure that all children have adult supervision while trick-or-treating and carry a flashlight. If an older child is going with a group, be sure to review safety rules with him/her, such as street safety. Know the route they plan to take, set a curfew and provide a cell phone, if necessary. Verify that children know their last name and phone number in case they get separated from their chaperone; consider attaching this information to the child's costume.* Use battery-powered candles rather than candles with a real flame. If you do use a real candle in a jack-o-lantern, place the pumpkin a safe distance away from where trick-or-treaters will be walking or standing. Be sure your home is well lit for trick-or-treaters, and clear steps and lawns of tripping hazards.* Instruct children not to eat any treats until they get home and have been checked by an adult. Dispose of any candy that has loose or open wrappers. Wash all fruit and cut into pieces to inspect it before eating.-- Courtesy of Oregon Health & Science University


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