Creating a Sense of Community

Creating a Sense of Community

Creating a Sense of Community

by Steve Gamel

When the City of Corinth’s Pumpkin Palooza was rained out last year, City Manager Bob Hart and Director of Finance & Communication Lee Ann Bunselmeyer should have been grinning from ear to ear. Granted, no one wanted to see their signature event get canceled, but the fact so many residents were bummed out showed how connected this community had become and both were disappointed in seeing the event rained out.

“Of all the events we do, Pumpkin Palooza is the one we hear the most positive feedback from,” Bunselmeyer said. “Everyone kept asking, ‘Can’t you just reschedule it?’ The community was really looking forward to it.”

She added, “We always wanted something that created a sense of community. We hadn’t had that before.”

Corinth has long been one of the top growth areas in Texas and the United States. But before 2016, the first year of Pumpkin Palooza, no other city event managed to bring everyone out in droves. In many ways, there was a feeling of disconnect among residents — all of whom were hungry to finally have a larger-than-life event in their own backyard. Over 9,000 people showed up that first year. Attendance ballooned to between 15-16,000 the next year, and it wasn’t just Lake Cities residents. There were visitors from as far away as Fort Worth
and Dallas to Carrollton, Krum, and Sanger.

This year’s event, slated for October 19 at Corinth Community Park, is expected to bring in more than 20,000 people. And barring another appearance from dear, sweet Mother Nature, city officials are holding nothing back.

“If you don’t have that sense of community environment, you have to create it,” Hart said with a smile.

So what is Pumpkin Palooza? It’s a free family event that caters to young and old alike with everything from amusement rides and games to hot air balloon rides, bounce houses, face painting, pumpkin carving, and a car show. Just a few of the rides include a zip line, euro bungee jump, rock climbing, a pony carousel, wagon rides, and more.

There will be live music from Brave Combo, Texas Flood, Soul Patrol, Red Wine, and Escape. And for visitors who are ultra-competitive, there will be a pie-eating contest along with a pumpkin derby and costume contest.

Approximately 15 food vendors and 60 additional vendors will also be on-hand selling food, drinks, and gifts.

Basically, anything and everything a family could enjoy will be available at Pumpkin Palooza.

“I think back to the first year we did this and had 9,000 people show up. We were thrilled with that,” Bunselmeyer said. “The popularity has grown significantly. It just keeps getting bigger and bigger.”

Pumpkin Palooza may be Corinth’s signature event, but it’s one of several they put on throughout the year. Others that continue to grow in popularity include the Annual Tree Lighting ceremony, Easter Egg-stravaganza, the Daddy-Daughter Dance, and National Night Out. Beyond events, Corinth offers an outstanding quality of life with great educational and recreational amenities. But in Hart’s eyes, there is always room for improvement.

Hart, along with the city council and staff, has been tirelessly looking for ways to not only build on the community’s timeless identity and small-town feel but also create an environment where residents feel they have input on what happens moving forward. With their strategic plan called Corinth 2030, the city hopes to attract quality residential and non-residential development, increase citizen engagement and proactive government, and focus more on regional cooperation among all the Lake Cities communities.

The city has redesigned its logo to play up its Corinthian architecture look and feel and will be inclusive of updates to all city paraphernalia and vehicles. The city also recently updated its website in June. The website was organized and designed based on input from resident focus groups and what they wanted to see most.

“The events we are putting on are essential to community engagement, but then you follow that up with a better built environment,” Hart said. “We want to create a center city, and we’d like to think our residents want that. Our surveys indicate that, and the feedback we’ve received at meetings indicate that.”

He added, “Anything we can do to build a better community, we will do.”

For more info visit www.corinthpumpkinpalooza.com.

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