EMMA ROUTLEY/THE CHRONICLE Steve Daletas, who recently won second place at Safeway’s World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off contest in California for a pumpkin that weighed 2,174 pounds, stands behind one of his prized pumpkins at Northern Lights Tree Farm. See how the local farm is handling fall activities this year during the pandemic.
PLEASANT HILL – Coronavirus might still be at large, but spooky season still rises like a zombie from the grave. Certain people, such as Lynn and Bob Schutte, have made sure Fall and Halloween are still celebrated at Northern Lights Tree Farm without sacrificing safety.
The farm is charging admission for the first time, which is $5 per person or $20 a car. Admission is charged due to the loss of other revenues, and like everyone else, Northern Lights is just trying to stay afloat.
Each day of the week holds a different special of the week, and there are multiple activities around the farm from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
EMMA ROUTLEY/THE CHRONICLE Stop by the Witches Brew for butterbeer and pumpkin juice on Fridays.
“We’ve had to make pretty big changes,” Lynn Schutte said. “My concern is the other farms who aren’t taking it as seriously. It’s a serious thing, and people have to feel like they’re safe. We figured if people get sick, they get sick. But they’re not getting sick here.”
The classic spirit of Harry Potter still reins, but some things have changed in order to keep the scariest thing of all – COVID-19 – at the gates of Hogwarts. Certain attractions that Northern Lights was famous for in years past are either held off or alternated. There is no giant inflatable Aragog the spider this year, and the nighttime Harry Potter corn maze is now a socially distanced daytime experience.
The farm store offers a variety of Harry Potter themed items, representing each house amongst a variety of other unique Halloween and Fall decorations at a carefully arranged socially distanced shopping experience.
Lynn Schutte said she’s a Hufflepuff, and claims Bob Schutte is a Slytherin. Northern Lights Tree Farm has been celebrating the Halloween season with a Harry Potter theme for about 10 years.
EMMA ROUTLEY/THE CHRONICLE Scarecrows are lined up 6ft apart outside of the corn maze, setting a good example for those waiting for their turn to enter the maze.
A unique attraction of Northern Lights is the gigantic pumpkins that are grown there. Steve Daletas has won awards for the massive pumpkins he grows on the property. He said growing these pumpkins is a full-time job, and the growing process begins in April.
One of Daletas’ giant pumpkins sits outside the farm store, waiting for someone to guess its correct weight and win a prize. Recently, Daletas won the second-place, $3,000 prize at the Half Moon Bay’s Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off contest in California for a pumpkin that weighed 2,174 pounds.
“I have to treat them like kids,” Daletas said. “They’re tucked in at night, which sounds silly, but if the pumpkin gets cold it doesn’t grow right. Our goal is to even things out as much as we can.
“In the daytime we’ll half uncover them so they’ll warm up a little bit and then put the comforters on at night to try and retain that heat.”
EMMA ROUTLEY/THE CHRONICLE One of Daletas’ giant blanketed pumpkins.
The blanketed pumpkins can be seen from the U-pick pumpkin patch, following the pathway to the dahlias.
Just in case muscling out a 2,000+ pound pumpkin isn’t on the spooky season agenda, a pumpkin patch is available where pumpkins are priced by the pound. There are also U-pick gourds and squash growing throughout the pumpkin patch available 2 for $1.
EMMA ROUTLEY/THE CHRONICLE Walk down the rows of dahlias to find your favorites and create a custom bouquet.
There are two U-pick flower options to choose from, sunflowers and dahlias. Sunflowers are $2/stem, and dahlias are $10 a bouquet.
The dahlias come in a wide variety of colors and sizes, are difficult to miss and are sure to brighten up any home the way they brighten up the Northern Lights Tree Farm.