Wyeth working to promote pink-pumpkin trend

Lynn Wachman (from left), Victoria Wyeth, Michael Guttman, and Alan Maringer comprise the pink pumpkin-painting posse.

A year ago, the October observances for Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Halloween spawned a smattering of pink pumpkins at the Wyeth homestead on Creek Road in Chadds Ford, but that was just the beginning.

The creator of the inaugural pink display was Victoria Browning Wyeth, who had faced a double mastectomy right around Halloween. Even though she wasn't feeling particularly festive, she didn't want to disappoint the schoolchildren who eagerly view her roadside pumpkin display at her famous grandparents’ home.  So she decided to add a splash of pink to the mix.

This year, she set a higher-profile goal. Equipped with six cans of Candy Pink spray paint – emptying a shelf at Home Depot – and 36 pumpkins, she opted for an exclusively pink look. She also enlisted a small posse of neophyte pumpkin-painters, who caught on quickly.

“No, I’ve never painted a pumpkin pink before,” admitted Alan Maringer as he deftly dodged the pink haze from the spray.

As the painters scurried from one fence post to the next on Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018, they attracted some attention from passing drivers, many of whom slowed to view the activity.

Victoria Wyeth helps 4-year-old Alex Migdal paint a pumpkin as his father, Jesse Migdal, watches

Jesse Migdal and his 4-year-old son Alex, who live nearby, walked over to get a closer look, and Alex got drafted to help. The father and son left with a spray can and fond memories of watching Wyeth paint Alex’s name on the grass.

“Alex couldn’t wait to go home and paint his own pumpkin and put it out on our own ‘fence’ by the road,” Migdal said later.

That’s exactly the response Wyeth wanted.

“I hope it catches on; I really do,” she said. “It’s such a great way to combine Halloween with something so important: Breast Cancer Awareness Month.”

Wyeth said the monthlong pumpkin adornments began a few years ago as a natural outgrowth of her upbringing.  The orange squash feature prominently in paintings by her grandfather, Andrew Wyeth. In addition, a whimsical self-portrait, her uncle, Jamie Wyeth, depicts himself as a pumpkin head.

The display, initially a way to celebrate her family’s favorite season, became more special after Wyeth, a popular lecturer at area elementary schools, learned that the decorations came into view on many of the school bus routes. Even better, she heard about how much the children enjoyed seeing them, making the assembly even more fun.

Alan Maringer gives a trend-setting pink power look to Lynn Wachman as Victoria Wyeth enjoys the demonstration.

Last year, the significance intensified when she added the pop of pink in tribute to others battling breast cancer.

“It’s so wonderful that she wants to do this,” said Lynn Wachman, one of the painters as well as a cancer survivor. “She’s a beacon of light, and she really cares about all of the people she met during her treatment.”

Wyeth’s quest to spread awareness and advocacy seemed to get a foothold in her crew.

By the time Maringer had perfected his painting technique, the pumpkins were finished, and he was ready for bigger challenges. So he turned the can loose on his t-shirt, producing a colorful burst. Once Wachman saw the results of his artistry, she requested – and received – the same look.

Then she and her husband, Michael Guttman, eagerly accepted a leftover paint can and got in their car. Several minutes later, they were spotted at the SIW farm stand. Their purchase: soon-to-be-pink pumpkins.

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