Posted by on Jun 6, 2014 in About Autism, Advocacy, Blog, Featured | 0 comments

The Great Highwood Pumpkin Festival To Benefit The Autism Society of Illinois



                                                      Ilyse Strongin-Bombicino                                                        847.432.6000 office

    312.285.7702 cell





FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                    

    —photography available—                                               



Downtown Highwood, October 17-19, 2014


HIGHWOOD, IL (OCTOBER 17-19, 2014) –The Autism Society of Illinois and the City of Highwood are proud to announce the 5th Annual Great Highwood Pumpkin Festival October 17-19, 2014.  With the goal of bringing communities together, the Great Highwood Pumpkin Festival will help carve out hope, possibilities and options for the 52,000 individuals impacted by Autism in Illinois.


“Our goal is to carve and light a pumpkin representing each individual impacted by Autism in Illinois,“ states Mary Kay Betz, Autism Society of Illinois executive director. “52,000 jack-o-lanterns may be a big dream to carve out, but our true goal is to help raise awareness, acceptance and monies needed for advocacy outreach for Illinois families. All money raised in Illinois stays in Illinois.”


The City of Highwood is honored to once again transform into Pumpkin Fest headquarters, while Autism Society of Illinois presents the event, orchestrating fan favorite activities including: Pet Costume Contest, Light Up the Night Parade, 5K Pumpkin Run, Walk & Kids’ Dash, onsite carving, nightly pumpkin wall lighting ceremonies, hay rides, pumpkin bowling, pony rides, petting zoo, carnival rides, kids crafts, live entertainment, pumpkin beer tasting, and seasonal food and beverage vendors galore.


With the emphasis on family fun and community camaraderie, festival-goers are encouraged to help carve a pumpkin to represent every person impacted by Autism in Illinois.  The jack-o-lanterns will be placed on pumpkin walls throughout the Festival grounds, with a ceremonial wall lighting Friday and Saturday nights, and the grand lighting on Sunday evening.


This years’ Autism-friendly event will have a sensory quiet area located at the Highwood Library (102 Highwood Avenue).  Aside from funds raised at the Festival, the public is invited to raise money for the Autism Society of Illinois by:

  • Join the Adopt-A-Pumpkin campaign, where anyone can build a pumpkin carving team and create a personal campaign page.
  • Honor any family or friend with a customized Pumpkin Festival Autism street banner or flag for $200.  The commemorative banner will be given to the family to take it home after the Festival.  Orders can be placed on line at
  • Help Highwood businesses complete their Autism Pumpkin Puzzle by purchasing an orange or black personal puzzle piece.

Proceeds from The Great Highwood Pumpkin Festival will go to Autism Society of Illinois.  There will be a $2/day admission, and $10/day unlimited kid activity wristbands good for pumpkin maze, hayride and bouncy house. The tentative 2014 schedule is as follows:


Friday, October 17, 4-9 pm:

4 pm- Pumpkin Fest kicks off with gourmet market with seasonal artisan food and drinks with pumpkin flare, live music, pony rides, petting zoo, pumpkin maze, hayrides, pumpkin carving, children’s activities, and so much more!

4-6 pm – Trick or Treating throughout festival grounds

7:30 pm- Celebratory lighting of the pumpkin wall


Saturday, October 18, 11-9 pm:

11 am- Gourmet market with seasonal artisan food and drinks with pumpkin flare, live music, pony rides, petting zoo, hayrides, pumpkin carving, children’s activities, and so much more!

7:30 pm- Celebratory lighting of the pumpkin wall

8 pm- “Light up the Night” Pumpkin Parade with a New Orleans flare. Plenty of performances, music, dancing, lights, and glowsticks to go around!


Sunday, October 19, 11-8 pm:

9 am- 5K Pumpkin Run, Walk and Kids’ Dash.

11am- Gourmet market with seasonal artisan food and drinks with pumpkin flare, live music, pony rides, petting zoo, hayrides, pumpkin carving, children’s activities, and so much more!

2 pm- Pet Costume Contest

5:30 pm- Grand Lighting Ceremony begins

8:30 pm- Pumpkin Dump


Please note: As more details are secured and the music line-up announced, updates will be posted to



On Sunday, October 19th at 9am, the 5K Pumpkin Run, Walk and Kids’ Dash will bring some 1,000 participants to town in an effort to raise further awareness and support for Autism Society of Illinois. The course is a beautiful scenic route with mixed terrain through Highwood and Fort Sheridan. It will start in front of The Bent Fork Bakery, at Walker Avenue and Sheridan Road, go north into Fort Sheridan and loop back to the finish/start line. Costumes are welcome!


Beginning October 5th, the cost of the race will increase from $35 to $45 for Run/Walk participants and from $10 to $15 for the Kids’ Dash. Online run registration will close Saturday, October 17th. Sign up here.  Day of race, on-site registration will begin at 7:30am.  Pre-race packet-pick up location TBA.  For more information on the race, please call (630) 691-1270 or email


After the festival, the City of Highwood invites everyone to participate in The Great Pumpkin Dump, a citywide pumpkin clean up effort. Participants will be separated into approximately 10-14 teams, each team will have their own territory to clean up, and the first team to finish wins. The Great Pumpkin Dump will begin at 9pm on Sunday, October 19th and the meeting time is at 8:30pm in front of the main gate. This is the easiest way to clean up the city and bring it back to normal. The Great Pumpkin Dump will help reduce overall costs and stress on the City with their responsibility to clean the city after the festival.


The perfect Fall event, The Great Highwood Pumpkin Festival was created in 2009, and has grown exponentially each year thereafter, attracting people from across the country to celebrate the season and make a day or weekend out of it!


Highwood is located just 28 miles north of Chicago, east of I-294 and Route 41 off the Half Day Road exit. Pumpkin Festival will take place in Downtown Highwood in Everts Park, the Highwood Library parking lot, along Highwood Avenue and North Avenue and Green Bay Road, from North Avenue to Highwood Avenue.


For more information on the Festival, or to sign up to be a volunteer or participate in one of the contests, please visit, or call 847-432-6000. #HighwoodPumpkinFestival


About The City of Highwood

Highwood was founded in 1868 by William Wallace Everts, a Chicago civic leader and world-renown educator. His concept of a family-based community has endured for more than a century. The beautiful Everts Park, in the heart of downtown Highwood, has been named in the founder’s honor. Benches and trees in the park celebrate and remember people who, through turbulent times and peaceful ones, built and sustained the community. Many of Highwood’s street names recall Everts’ family and friends whom the founder encouraged to build homes here. Residents of Swedish, Irish, Italian, Latino and other heritages have since populated the community, each enriching the community through their cultural traditions.

The Village of Highwood was incorporated in 1887. The name briefly became Village of Fort Sheridan and then City of Fort Sheridan. In 1904, the community officially became known as the City of Highwood. Fort Sheridan, a former army base slightly northeast of the City, has had a profound influence on Highwood’s development, and it continues to do so today as part of its land, incorporated into the City, nearly doubled Highwood in size. Today, Highwood is blending the past and present with exciting new plans for its future.

The City of Highwood, IL administrative offices are located at 17 Highwood Avenue, Highwood, Illinois 60040.  For more information, please visit Tel: 847.432.1924.


About the Autism Society of Illinois

The nation’s leading grassroots autism organization, the Autism Society exists to improve the lives of all affected by autism. They do this by increasing public awareness about the day-to-day issues faced by people with ASD, advocating for appropriate services for individuals across the lifespan, and providing the latest information regarding treatment, education, research and advocacy. For more information, visit

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