Looking for an opportunity to bring something new and exciting to your swimming pool and local community? Try a floating pumpkin patch! It's that time of year again when the kids get dressed up and go hunting for the perfect pumpkin. This time, have them head to your swimming pool and bob around in search of the perfect one!
Planning your floating pumpkin patch
Pick a good date. You know your patron attendance best, but shoot for a weekend so the whole family can join. Keep in mind you'd like to keep this toward the later half of October to make sure everyone has got their Fall party hat on, but early enough they can admire their hard work before Halloween.
Plan your number of participants for the event. 50 is a good number, but plan on getting 60 pumpkins to allow for a few extra and any pumpkin mishaps that might come up.
Sell tickets ahead of time, either online or over the phone, so you can plan ahead for the number of pumpkins you'll need to drop in the pool. You certainly don't want to have hundreds of leftover chlorinated pumpkins, and you definitely don't want anyone feeling left out, either! You can use an online ticket provider like Eventbrite or use your registration software you use for your facility (hopefully it has an online version too!).
Set a price for your event that's reasonable for your community. It's up to you, but folks usually charge per-person (no matter what) or do something like $12 per-person (with a pumpkin) and $7 per-person otherwise. Keep in mind the costs you'll incur acquiring all of these pumpkins, staffing the party with lifeguards and pool attendants, and supplying arts and crafts for everyone to enjoy.
You're going to need pumpkins, of course. Lots of them. Use this opportunity as a fun staff engagement exercise. Maybe try taking your next staff training or meeting to the pumpkin patch. Or, create an "extra credit" opportunity for staff to go above and beyond and do something fun to contribute to the program. Try to get similar sized pumpkins to avoid headaches and complaints later on during your event.
Even better, see if you can find a local farm or other "pumpkin supplier" to drop off a few pallets of pumpkins at your pool. You might be able to negotiate a bulk discount or small donation toward your cause since you'll potentially be buying a ton of pumpkins all at once. Free delivery? Who knows! Buying local tends to be cheaper than the grocery store.
Make sure to clean your pumpkins prior to the event. This is help avoid a lot of unnecessary mess and dirt getting in your pool. You can simply hose them off and keep the dirt outside the building.
Stations / Activities
Set up stations to have your pumpkin harvesters go through after getting out of the pool:
- Pumpkin drying station
- Arts & Crafts Area
- Game(s) Area
- Evaluations / Awards Area
Get the fixings for pumpkin carving or decorating. To add on to the fun, allow extra time for children and their families (adult supervision of course) to carve or decorate their pumpkins before taking them home to put on display. Provide extra arts and crafts for family members to participate in, too! If you don't plan on having every child carve a pumpkin, give them other activities to do so they can participate in too! Whatever opportunities you decide to include just think through the flow of your event to make sure it will go off without a hitch!
Plan ahead for "carving" versus "decorating." You probably just cringed at that thought. We'd recommend keeping this one toward the "decorating-only" side due to safety concerns and logistics. But, if you'd like to offer carving opportunities, make sure you can enforce safety rules and set up a dedicated area to keep the mess to a minimum. Remind the kids to keep pumpkin seeds way away from the pool to make sure you don't end up with pumpkins growing in your filters!
As far as decorating goes, make sure you've got tons of Sharpies, stickers, googly eyes, foam stickers, and whatever else you can think of sticking on a pumpkin. Check out Oriental Trading for bulk party and craft supplies if you don't have a go-to spot for that, yet! For the event decorations, try and get reusable decorations to help reduce the cost of putting on future events!
You might also want to consider a themed photo booth for your floating pumpkin patch! These are always a hit and don't have to be complex. Just have a designated area and props for participants to use and they can take their own pictures with their phones during the event to share with friends and family. Hint: Hay bales are a nice touch here or leading into your event as well!
Marketing your event
Create an event on Facebook. Share photos and videos of you gathering pumpkins, supplies, and setting up for the event to help get your community excited about this unique event at your facility. Remember, "video is king" nowadays in social media land. Take a video of your staff picking pumpkins (at the real pumpkin patch) and share it on your Instagram. Don't forget to share it on your Instagram Story, too!
Take a video on your phone, telling your community how excited you are about this new event and invite them to get dressed up and bring down the whole family for a fun experience. Then, post this video on your social media channels, and get it on your website if possible, too! Remember, with social media, you can't just do one post and call it good. Make social media promotion a regular activity (every week 1-2 months in advance, then every few days, then every day right before the event). Tip: hand this off to a staff member who an expert when it comes to social media.
Print flyers and brochures and post around your facility. In the weeks leading up to your event, make sure to have an eye-catching flyer announcing the details for your event. Add some images to help catch attention as patrons walk by. Pumpkins floating in a swimming pool are sure to catch people off guard! If you haven't done much design before, check out some tools like Canva or Snappa to use templates to create a visually-appealing promotion for your event, no Photoshop skills needed!
During the event
On the day of your event, make sure to gently add the pumpkins to your pool before anyone enters the water. Keeping safety is a number one priority, and pumpkins can easily hurt someone if dropped from the pool deck (or other structures). Depending on attendance and the size of your pool, you might consider doing rotations of pumpkin picking to spread out the load. Too many pumpkins in a small pool can cause visibility issues for your lifeguards. Too many pumpkins and too many children... you get the idea.
Try to have at least one lifeguard in the water to make sure everyone is being safe and having a great time in the water.
Floating pumpkin patch etiquette includes: play, have fun, don't throw pumpkins (they can bust), choose only 1 pumpkin when you're done with play time.
During your event, make sure to take photos and video of the action. Keep in mind your policies for photographing or taking video of minors, but this content will be perfect for year two of your floating pumpkin festivities! Another pro tip! If you've got a staff member or lifeguard who's into this kind of thing, equip them with a waterproof camera or GoPro and have them document the event in and outside of the water. You're sure you get some interesting footage for use later (see marketing above)
Besides general cleanup, make sure to clean our your strainer baskets and backwash your pool(s) to get ready for regular patron use. With a large bather-load and extra dirt that could get in the pool, it's easy to bump up your regular backwash schedule for this event!
Make sure you compile all the awesome pictures and video footage you acquired during the event and post on your social media channels! Those who weren't able to attend will enjoy seeing what the event was like and have them looking forward to coming next year.
Have local businesses sponsor your event. This can help offset the cost of the event and also provide opportunities for cross-promotion with those businesses in your community.
Leverage this opportunity to do a different kind of in-service training for your staff prior to the event. Have them kick on their back for 25 yards holding a pumpkin out of the water instead of a diving brick or do pumpkin rescue relays.
Encourage families to wear costumes to the event! Add to the Fall festivities by having your swimming swarmed with children in fun costumes! Just make sure no one gets pushed in the pool with a costume on, or a lifeguard is sure to follow!
Have a lazy river? Floating pumpkins down your lazy river is sure to be a blast for everyone, but keep in mind where the pumpkins could wander. You don't want to see pumpkins coming down your water slide, for example.
If you've hosted a floating pumpkin patch at your pool before and have any tips you'd like to share, drop a comment below!