Monroe Elementary School’s Pumpkin Festival is fun for all ages

Gina Colley and her two-year-and-five-month-old daughter Lilliana at the Pumpkin Festival at Monroe Elementary School Saturday.

Children slid down an inflatable slide and jumped in a bounce house on the lawn at Monroe Elementary School Saturday, while others went inside the building for face painting, photos and holiday shopping with their families during the 41st annual Pumpkin Festival, which raises money for the school PTO.

Bob Klein grills hamburgers and hot dogs during the Pumpkin Festival at Monroe Elementary School Saturday.

The annual celebration is not only for the younger families, Bob Klein grilled hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill behind the building. The longtime Monroe firefighter’s son graduated from MES long ago, but Klein continued to volunteer for the festival over the years.

“I like it. It’s fun,” Klein said after separating frozen hamburger patties and putting the meat on the grill.

Klein and his wife, who works at Monroe Elementary School as a paraprofessional and is a member of the Ladies Auxiliary at the Monroe Volunteer Fire Department, first started volunteering 28 years ago, when their son was age five.

“Every year I’m on the grill,” Klein said, “but last year they didn’t have the grill, so I made pizza frites.”

Of volunteering for the Pumpkin Festival, he said, “it’s great. It allows me to give back to the community and it helps the PTO, so they can do a better job for the kids. This year they had trouble finding volunteers, so I got firemen like Mike Provenzano to help out.”

Provenzano worked in the grilling area with Klein.

The Pumpkin Festival may get another longtime volunteer back. Donnie Gallant, aka Donnie G, and his wife Debbie, went to the festival to see their granddaughter Sophia, 2. Donnie used to make pizza frites for the event.

“There’s no pizza frites this year,” he said. “I’ll come back next year. When I did it, Jennie’s Pizza donated all the sauce and dough, the whole nine yards. They’re great people.”

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