The children of Norfolk and beyond have their answer to public health authorities who say Halloween is a bad idea and that trick-or-treaters should stay home.
That answer is found in a new video created by a Toronto public relations firm with the help of Norfolk County Mayor Kristal Chopp.
The video tells the tale of a lucky windfall Oct. 2 in the Norfolk County Archives and Eva Brook Donly Museum in Simcoe when a “folk historian” character named “Frances Folk” was poring through a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore.
Some obscure pages fell from an old magazine, one telling of a tradition known as “Peter Peter Pumpkin Treater” dating back to the 1800s.
A vast pumpkin spread at Scotlynn Group in the Vittoria area was used as a backdrop to share this story – one which has children planting pumpkin seeds in pots the night before Halloween and waking up the next morning with sweet treats sprouted in their place.
This tradition happens to coincide with current public health prescriptions for social distancing and refraining from touching common surfaces as a way of breaking the chain-of-transmission for the COVID-19 coronavirus.
On Oct. 20, Chopp said the three-and-a-half-minute video was the idea of a public relations company which hopes the production goes viral.
“They said Christmas has Santa Claus, Easter has the Easter Bunny, but Halloween has no one,” Chopp said. “So they came up with Peter Peter Pumpkin Treater. It’s something for the kids.”
Zeno Group took the initiative on the project and is promoting its video through newswire services in the hope that it finds a wide audience.
“I’m a mom of two young girls and thought the world could use a little magic and joy right now. That’s why we created the legend,” said Julie Georgas, managing director, Zeno Group.
“We choose Norfolk as the birthplace of Peter Peter Pumpkin Treater because there was something magical about it being Canada’s Pumpkin capital.”
Because Zeno Group got “the pumpkin rolling,” Chopp said the video cost Norfolk nothing but the mayor’s spare time on Sunday. Meanwhile, Chopp hopes the county reaps free publicity beyond its boundaries in terms of promoting Norfolk and its diverse agricultural output.
The Peter Peter Pumpkin Treater legend is similar to the story of the Tooth Fairy.
With the Pumpkin version, children are advised to bury pumpkin seeds in pots of soil the night before Halloween. This act prompts the production of pumpkins in Peter Peter’s Magic Pumpkin Land. In gratitude, the sprite causes candy, money and other goodies to materialize in the area of the seeded pots the following morning.
The manufacture of this legend occurs against the backdrop of serious concerns in the public-health community that trick-or-treating could turn into a coronavirus super-spreader event, especially in COVID-19 hot spots such as the Greater Toronto Area and Ottawa.
For his part, Dr. Shanker Nesathurai, Norfolk and Haldimand’s Medical Officer of Health, said it’s a good idea for local families to take a pass on trick-or-treating next week and try again in 2021.
Chopp says the production company contacted Norfolk after learning that the county is the No. 1 producer of pumpkins in all of Canada.
“Isn’t that great that they would want to come to Norfolk County and promote our agriculture,” Chopp said. “Isn’t it great they would want to come to us for something for the kids at Halloween.”
The video can be viewed on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uwpq8T8mgDI .