There are plenty of things to do in the bewitching season especially in Manteca-Lathrop - the undisputed Pumpkin Capital of California.
With more than 70 percent of the commercially grown pumpkin crop in the Golden State originating from surrounding fields, Manteca and Lathrop know how to celebrate.
• DELL’OSSO FARMS: You might want to truck on over to the Dell’Osso Family Farms corn maze before the bewitching hour ends on Halloween.
First there’s the 25-acre maze that’s at the heart of the 15th annual Dell’Osso Farms Pumpkin Maze that has become the second largest agriculture attraction of its kind in the United States only eclipsed in attendance by a maze in Nebraska. Not that the head count is anything to sneeze at in Lathrop. The maze has grown from an initial 10,000 draw the first year to more than 140,000 visitors last year.
Although the main attraction is the maze and an all-new, 5000-square-foot Haunted Mansion that replaces the 3,000-square-foot Haunted House, the pumpkin blasters also rate as a major crowd pleaser.
For $5, you receive a bucket of miniature pumpkins — Ron Dell’Osso is probably the only person who grows his own ammo commercially — for loading into uniquely designed blasters that resemble bazookas. It took Dell’Osso several years to perfect them.
The miniature pumpkins fly at between 90 and 100 miles per hour out of the blasters.
Other new attractions this year is Pumpkin Princess (one actress has served as Snow White at Disneyland) designed for young girls and a bucking pumpkin that is a gourd version of a mechanical bull. The cost is $5 a ride.
The event that is open thru Wednesday, Oct. 31, includes a railroad ride, tractor ride, spinning pumpkins, rope confidence course, zip lines, a haunted hayride, a free race-car speedway, a Kiddie Land and much more.
This year the 25-acre maze actually consists of four mazes including a pumpkin, witch and a bat.
There is, of course, every imaginable shape, size and color of pumpkin available for sale.
They’ve also created the ultimate kids playground and a hill of stacked used tractor and heavy equipment tires filled with sand.
There’s still an elaborate haunted mansion, free tricycle races, pony rides and a hay maze for little kids. There’s also a Gold Rush-style attraction - a mining sluice at “Pumpkin Hill” complete with a western town where kids can pan for ore.
The event also features a 2-acre picnic ground, free parking, food and lots of areas for the kids to play.
The last entrance into the maze is at 8 p.m. so bring a flashlight.
Dell’Osso Farms is located at Manthey Road exit off I-5 just south of the San Joaquin River in Lathrop and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Oct. 31. Admission to the grounds is free. Many attractions are free; $5 per bucket of ammo for Pumpkin Blaster; $14 all-day ticket for adults get unlimited access to the maze and haunted, all-day cost for kids ages 4 to 8 is $10; those under 3 are free; zip lines start at $6; spinning pumpkins $2.50; ropes course starts at $10; bucking pumpkin $5; plus a number of other attractions. For more details go to www.pumpkinmaze.com
• SAFE HALLOWEEN: The downtown Manteca Safe Halloween is today from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The Interact Club of Manteca is organizing the event with the help of participating downtown merchants providing trick-or-treat candy. Young children 10 years and younger are encouraged to don their costumes and trick or treat at the many participating merchants in downtown. Club members will have free face painting along with several other games and booths at the Manteca Bedquarters parking lot located at the corner of Main Street and Yosemite Avenue.
• DRIVE THRU HAUNTED HOUSE: Manteca’s original haunted drive thru returns for the Halloween season tonight from 6:30 to 10 p.m., at 1318 North Airport Way, Manteca, corner of Louise/Airport. The fee is $10 per car.
• RIPON VFW HALLOWEEN BASH: The Ripon Veterans of Foreign War Auxiliary is conducting a Halloween bash with finger foods, costume contest and dancing today starting at 5 p.m. at the Post 1051 home located on West Ripon Road and Oliver Avenue. Admission is $10.
• COLONY OAK SCHOOL HARVEST FESTIVAL: The Parent Faculty Club of Colony Oak School’s annual Harvest Carnival is today starting at noon at the 22241 S. Murphy Road campus in Ripon. There will be a silent auction, raffle, bounce houses, a scarecrow contest, a giant slide, and carnival games for all ages including a Live Chicken Run.
• HAUNTED HOUSE: A haunted house sponsored by Dean Uecker of Farmers Insurance Group is tonight and Wednesday, Oct. 31, from 6:30 to 9:30p.m. at 555 Robert Ave., in Ripon.
By DENNIS WYATT
209 staff reporter