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Halloween 101: Best Local Pumpkin Patches

From local pumpkin patches to a great system for limiting sugar overload, here's a guide to Halloween in San Rafael.

The leaves start to fall, the geese fly South, and then out of nowhere Halloween  arrived. Now it's Jack o’ lanterns, fright nights, scarecrows, haunted houses and trick or treating!

The reason for celebrating Halloween, which dates back to Celtic and Irish customs, has long been associated with images of witches, ghosts, goblins and devils but the rituals of celebration have changed and today people of all ages will thoroughly enjoy wearing a costume of some sort in hopes of a few screams or a few laughs and lots of candy. It’s a holiday that extends itself over a few weekends, with school parties and mother’s clubs parties and community celebrations.

There are many different aspects to Halloween, and trips to the pumpkin patch are an important part of the season. Since California contributed over 100 million pounds to the 1.1 billion pounds of pumpkins harvested in 2010, it’s no surprise there are a few local pumpkin patches perfect for San Rafael families to enjoy as a day or afternoon outing!  

Godmothers of Timothy Murphy School Pumpkin Patch in Marinwood offers pumpkins ranging from $1 to $20 and all proceeds are donated to the . There are scarecrows and wagons too, making this a great spot for an early evening adventure.

The is running a patch this year too, Monday though Friday from 2 p.m. - 6 p.m. and on weekends from 10 a.m. - 5:30p.m. All proceeds will benefit educational programs through WeAreSR!, the parent organization of San Rafael High School.

For a pick-your-pumpkin-off-the-vine experience, the only patch in Marin is the Nicasio Valley Farms Pumpkin Patch, but it’s a great one and worth the 35 minute drive. There's musical entertainment every weekend, jumpy houses, wagon rides and hay mazes are only part of the fun and the Nicasio Valley Cheese Company just happens to have their store across the parking lot from the patch, making for a great opportunity to picnic while combing the vines for the perfect organic pumpkin.

For the big night, this year on a Monday, San Rafael neighborhoods considered to be a hot spot for candy seekers had better stock up because according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 41 million potential trick-or-treaters, aged 5-14 in the United States last year. Every store in town, from s to and have great deals on massive bags of chocolate and sugar sweets.

All that candy will make a lot parents cringe however, and so if, after allowing the trick or treaters at home to select and enjoy the best candy they’ve gathered, a candy buy-back program sounds enticing, San Rafael’s Dr. McDowell’s and Dr Gonzalez’s will buy back candy for $1 a pound! The donated candy will be send to U.S. Soldiers for the holidays via Operation Gratitude. It’s a great way to teach your kids how to share and a great way to spread the Halloween fun.

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